A 70-year-old Army veteran said that he was fired from his job at a Home Depot in Texas when he tried to confront a group of shoplifters.
Jim Tinney said he was fired from his job at a Home Depot in Pearland, Texas, two weeks after an incident in which he threw a paint roller extension at one of three men he said were shoplifting from the store, New York Daily News reports.
The former employee said that he saw the three men carrying tool sets worth thousands of dollars toward the exit and appearing anxious.
"One of them hollered, 'Let's go,' and they all grabbed their kits and started heading out," he said.
Before thinking, Tinney threw what he was holding at one of the men. "I just automatically went like this and threw the stick at their feet," he recalled.
According to Tinney, he reacted with his reflexes because of his Army training.
"In the Army, they train you to do things like that," said Tinney, reports Fox News.
He also said the company went too far by firing him.
"I think they could have written me up, reprimanded me, but terminate me? That's pretty strong," said the vet.
"I'm 70 years old. I need to work," he added. "I needed that job. I enjoyed working with customers figuring out what they wanted to do. It's fun."
"No," said Tinney when asked if he ever thought the incident could lead to him losing his job. "I did not at all."
Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes said that Tinney was terminated because he violated the stores' policy.
"We have a strict policy that only our trained security personnel can pursue and engage shoplifters. We’ve had deaths and serious injury over the years, and no amount of merchandise is more important than the safety of our associates and customers," said Holmes.
In a similar case in 2016, four Home Depot employees in Palm Coast, Florida, were also fired after they helped catch a shoplifter, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
Jeffrey Miller, Jazmin Kelly, Joe Spector, and George Ippolito were each fired from the company after an incident in which they helped to stop a shoplifter, recovering nearly $1,000 in merchandise.
The alleged shoplifter, Brandon Charles Edward Mullins Lowe, was arrested for grand theft. Kelly reportedly wouldn't let the man leave the store without showing his receipt, and Miller and Ippolito said that Lowe tried to ram Kelly with his shopping cart.
"To me, it wasn’t about pursuing a shoplifter," said Ippolito.
"I saw a guy crashing a cart into one of the cashiers and I was responding to her aid," he said. "Then he looked like he was going to attack Joe. He started dropping all the merchandise, and then he ran away."