St. Petersburg, FL -- His co-workers thought Robert VanConnet was pretty heroic when the 7-Eleven clerk pulled out a gun and chased off a knife-wielding robber two weeks ago.
But that's not exactly the way the company saw it.
VanConnet was fired for violating 7-Eleven company policy, even though St. Pete police say this guy didn't break the law.
STORY: 7-Eleven store clerk fired for pulling gun in armed robbery
"I just wanted to get him out of the store," VanConnet told 10 News.
He says he'd already been robbed twice before as an overnight clerk at 7-Eleven, so he got himself a concealed weapons permit.
"I think I should be able to protect myself," said VanConnet.
And on October 12th, he did just that.
A customer, seen in store surveillance video, enters the store on 34th Street North in St. Petersburg and gets a cup of coffee.
Just as the register opens, the suspect throws the hot liquid on VanConnet's co-worker.
The guy pulls a knife. VanConnet, pulls a gun.
WATCH: Suspect uses coffee, knife in robbery attempt
"I'm not gonna stand there and get stabbed or cut or anything like that. I mean the guy looked like he was on drugs or something," said VanConnet.
VanConnet violated no laws, but figured he might get fired "because I knew the policy not to have a gun in the store," he said.
And a few days later, that's exactly what happened.
A spokesperson for 7-Eleven told 10 News VanConnet violated the company's no-weapons policy. The decision to prohibit employees from carrying weapons, they say, is based on research, police advice and experience.
"I mean as hard as it is, it's a weird situation, but you just gotta follow the rules," said customer Kris Edwards.
But some think, given the hazards of the job, workers like VanConnet need protection.
"If they want them to come without any defense at all, then they should hire armed guards like they do at banks to protect their customers and their employees," said customer George Marvin.
But others see the hazard of a potential shootout endangering workers - even innocent bystanders.
"Because anyone in there can get shot including my kids," said customer Kelila Serrano.
VanConnet said he doesn't want to become the next poster child for the NRA or gun rights advocates. He just thinks that people should have right to protect themselves.
And faced with the same circumstances?
"I'd do it again," he said.
The suspect in the robbery was still at large. If you have information which may be of help, you're asked to contact St. Petersburg Police.
TELL US: Do you think the clerk should have been fired? Join our conversation on the WTSP 10 News Facebook page.
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