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Florida Wal-Mart Fires Security Guard for Chasing Shoplifter

A Wal-Mart security guard who chased down a knife-wielding shoplifter now finds himself on the unemployment line, fired for his heroic actions. Josh Rutner says "I couldn't let him get away." But Wal-Mart says he should have.

According to Rutner's account and the police report, Rutner was patroling the store in Ocala Florida earlier this month, when he saw a man put a box of golf balls down his pants. Rutner says he watched as the man walked around some more, take the package out and put it on a random shelf, then go to the food department and eat a sandwich without paying. Then he went back to the golf balls, put them in his pants again, and took off.

Rutner radioed for assistance, and he and two other employees tackled the man. But then the man surprised them all by pulling a knife, and slashing at Rutner's face. Thankfully, he missed. But the man ran out of the store.

"I felt now that he was a danger to the public and the city," he said. "If he'd pull a knife on two security guards, he'd pull a knife on anyone."

Rutner followed him into the parking lot, and tried to hit him with a shopping cart. The drama finaly came to an end when a customer who was following all of this from her car told the man to drop the knife, which he did.

But the story doesn't end here. The next day, Rutner was fired for violating the store's no-chase policy. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Michelle Bradford said, "We take the safety and security of our customers and associates very seriously. There are specific instructions as to what an associate can and can't do during a shoplifting episode."

Rutner says he knew the policy when he gave chase. But he says it just wasn't right to let the man get away. "I didn't get hurt. They got their merchandise," he said. "And yet I got fired."

The suspect, Marc Ash, is charged with robbery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault.


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