Tuesday , May 20, 2008
By Sara Bonisteel
An act of bravery to defend a co-worker has cost a Minnesota gas-station attendant his job.
Mark Beverly, an overnight shift supervisor at a SuperAmerica in Roseville, Minn., was fired in March after he jumped on a masked robber who he believed was attacking a fellow employee.
SuperAmerica said he violated company policy when he came to his colleague's aid in the early morning of March 26. So instead of accolades, Beverly got the boot.
Adding insult to injury, Beverly — who is still looking for another job — has been denied unemployment benefits. He will appeal that decision on June 5.
The trouble began around 3 a.m. when Beverly was cleaning the bathroom and his female co-worker was behind the cash register. Beverly said he heard her scream, so he ran out and saw a robber wearing a blue-stocking cap jostling with her.
"It looked like he was hurting her, so I jumped on him," Beverly said. "I just tried to bang him on the counter a couple of times."
After a tussle, he said, the robber regained his footing and looked as if he was going to pull out a weapon. Beverly said the man told him, "Don't be a hero," before fleeing the store with about $15.
Beverly called police and reviewed security tapes with his managers before completing his shift. "Everything was fine," he said.
The next day, however, he was fired for violating company policy.
Marathon Petroleum Company, the owner of the SuperAmerica chain, said Beverly was told what to do in the company handbook — which advises employees to "cooperate: don't argue, resist or attack the robber" — and through a computer-based training program Beverly was required to complete when he was hired.
"He endangered himself and her, and that’s why we have the policy," said Linda Casey, a Marathon spokeswoman. "And we have enforced it with other employees, not just with him."
"I just thought it was wrong, that's all," said Beverly, who had worked at SuperAmerica for just over a year. "You're not really trained for a robbery, and that was the first robbery I have ever been in in my life."
Capt. Rick Mathwig of the Roseville Police Department said authorities advise people not to take action when faced with a robbery.
"When you start resisting at some way shape or form, the suspect who may not have intended on using the weapon that he or she came with may use it intentionally or unintentionally when faced with a conflict," he said.
Roseville police have listed the case as inactive as they have not been able to identify the robber. The only image of him is partial profile and his face is obscured by the stocking cap, Mathwig said.
The security tape did not show the female co-worker struggling with the robber over the cash-register drawer, Casey said.
"The female employee was never attacked," she said. The robber reached in and grabbed cash out of the drawer.
"We have a statement from both [Beverly] and the female employee," Casey said. "Neither one of them say anything about her being attacked, hurt or anything, and the video we have substantiates it."
Beverly said that from his vantage point, he thought she was being attacked.
"With both of them so close it looked — from the angle that I was at — it looked like she was being attacked," he said.