Rutland, VT. (CBS CONNECTICUT) — A Rutland store clerk says he’s been suspended from his job at a North Main Street convenience store for drawing a gun on an attempted robber who threatened him behind the counter with a knife.
Don Pitaniello, 58, said he was preparing to close Mac’s Convenience Store – which he says has already been robbed “eight or nine times” — around 9:30 p.m. on Monday when a man wearing a hoodie and a bandana covering his face entered the store and held a 5-inch blade to his face, the Rutland Herald reports.
“I looked up when I heard the doorbell chimes and saw the hoodie, the bandana, and a bag in his hand,” Pitaniello told the Rutland Herald on Monday. “He walked up to the counter, laid the knife on it and said ‘Empty the register.’”
Pitaniello, a Vietnam veteran, says he has carried a gun his whole life, and that he was already clutching his .380-caliber handgun behind his back when the unidentified man began walking toward his counter.
“I knew his intentions as soon as he came in,” Pitaniello said. “When he told me to empty the register, I cocked my head and said ‘Really?’”
Pitaniello reacted to the blade in his face by raising the gun and pointing it at the intruder’s own face – at which point the unidentified attempted robber fled the store on foot, without a word.
But Pitaniello says that although he prevented a robbery, he violated several store policies, including a prohibition of bringing firearms into the business and pursuing an armed robber from the store. Pitaniello says he only followed far enough to see the man running west on North Street, and he does not regret the decisions he made during the incident.
He was suspended from the store for the violations.
“That store has been robbed eight or nine times and I always work nights,” he said. I’m a firm believer in having a gun and not needing it rather than the other way around. I can always find a new job.”
The attempted robbery at Mac’s in Rutland is the second time in a week that an armed assailant has brandished a knife and demanded money from a convenience store in the area.