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Published: Friday, 12/24/2010

Armed robbery leads to firing of Circle K store clerk

David Fisher, 41, was on the evening shift Dec. 18 at Circle K, 6008 Secor Rd., when four male robbers -- two visibly armed -- barged into the store about 8:45 p.m. and yelled at customers, including a pregnant woman, to get on the ground and stay still, according to his recollection.

One gunman vaulted the counter and ordered at gunpoint another store clerk to empty both cash drawers.

Mr. Fisher said he was stocking coffee on the shop floor when screaming and pandemonium broke out.

"It was all mass confusion," Mr. Fisher recalled Friday.

"There were two things that went through my mind: One, are they taking wallets too? And oh, crap, I've got too much money in my drawer."

No one was hurt in the robbery, and Toledo police have apprehended two of the four suspects, Mr. Fisher said.

The suspects' names were unavailable because police reports of the incident were not yet filed in the police records department and a detective did not return phone calls from The Blade.

But Mr. Fisher's second concern was well-founded: Circle K policy forbids clerks from keeping more than $100 in their registers.

Anything over that amount is supposed to be deposited in the store's drop safe.

Mr. Fisher had accumulated more than $300 in his drawer that night, but said he was busy with other storekeeping tasks.

Yet despite what he called a strong eight-year work record and his offer to personally pay back Circle K everything the robbers took, the company fired Mr. Fisher on Monday.

A married father with two school-aged girls, Mr. Fisher works 40 hours a week as a welder. But he says he needed his 25-hours-a-week Circle K job to pay medical bills and household expenses.

He feels a suspension or one-time wage deduction would have been fairer punishment.

"Merry Christmas," Mr. Fisher said with heavy sarcasm. "I wish corporate could have gone to the district manager and the store manager to find out what type of person this is. Is he a hard worker or a slacker? And should we discipline him instead of firing him?"

A Circle K official told The Blade he could not comment about past or current employees.

Brian Koenig, regional director of operations for Circle K Great Lakes, did confirm the policy against holding more than $100 in cash, which he called a safety precaution.

"If you have employees that don't follow policies and procedures, it puts everyone at risk," Mr. Koenig said.

The four Circle K robbers fled on foot with their loot. Mr. Fisher said he called 911 and ran to see the direction they went.

The incident was the second armed robbery in his eight years at the Secor Road Circle K, formerly a Sterling Food Store.

For Mr. Fisher, the most disappointing aspect of his subsequent dismissal was what he described as the company's fire first, ask questions later approach to firing that fails to account for an employee's work ethic.

Mr. Fisher said he accomplished more tasks during his six-hour shifts than the typical employee, and in addition, he did things like aggressively pursue shoplifters and those who sped off without paying for their fuel.

"There were instances where I would corner the people and force them to come back to the store and pay," Mr. Fisher said. "The ones who did it on accident, I would follow them to their driveway."

He estimated that he saved the convenience store hundreds of dollars more than what the robbers took last weekend.

Mr. Fisher was reluctant to ask former Circle K co-workers to speak publicly about his contributions to the workplace. "I don't want to put their jobs in jeopardy just because of me," he said.

One co-worker who has since left the store vouched for Mr. Fisher's work ethic, but said that he was prone to leaving too much money in his cash register.

"He was a good worker. He was a good employee. But he did like to leave money in his drawer," said the former employee, who refused to give her name.

Though still irritated about his dismissal, Mr. Fisher said he is not the type to dwell over hardships, and plans to scour the city for a new part-time job after the holidays.

Contact JC Reindl at: jreindl@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.

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