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Fatal shooting creates human resources issue for Kroger

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Kroger officials are reviewing the actions of a manager who fatally shot a would-be robber inside a grocery store while it was busy with customers, a company spokesman said.

Indianapolis police have said no charges are expected in Monday night's shooting by the 24-year-old manager at the store on the city's northwest side. The manager shot 26-year-old Jeremy Atkinson of Indianapolis after he forced an employee to the store's office, but police haven't said whether Atkinson had a gun.

Kroger spokesman John Elliott told Fox59 that the company has an employee gun policy but wouldn't discuss it. A copy of a Kroger employee handbook obtained by Fox59 says employees are not allowed to bring firearms onto company premises at any time.

"Kroger is not making any comment until the final internal investigation is completed and we decide how to proceed next," he said. ""We are not commenting on what our gun policy is. That will lead to follow up questions that we can’t answer at this time." 

State legislators in 2010 passed a law that allows employees to leave a gun in a locked car in a company parking lot — regardless of the company's rules on firearms in the workplace. But state law still allows private employers to decide whether to let employees bring guns into stores or factories.

The problem is that not disciplining the manager could lead to future legal risk for Kroger, said Michael Blickman, an employment law attorney in Indianapolis.

Gun owners aren't necessarily trained in how to deal with dangerous situations. If another employee one day fires a gun and accidentally hurts an innocent person, the company could become liable if it's thought to be permissive about weapons in the workplace, Blickman said.

Indeed, that's why many companies have a no-guns-allowed rule in the first place.

"It's one of the most commonly adopted rules, whether you are a large employer or a small employer," Blickman said.

Kroger has to be wondering whether coming down hard on the employee could lead to a boycott, Blickman said — or worse. "What if there's an organized effort by the NRA?"

Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, who has sponsored legislation broadening the legal rights of gun owners, said he disagreed with companies not allowing guns at the workplace, but he has no plans to propose a law prohibiting workplace gun bans.

"I would hope that employers would recognize that their employees have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Tomes said. "If they chose a policy that jeopardizes any of those, they have to accept the responsibility."

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  • another hero
    This Kroger manager is a hero. Nel, you don't know if he was properly trained or not, with respect to the use of a firearm. I'd say he's probably had some training since the only one dead is the perpetrator and everyone else is safe. Kroger, listen up. Your CUSTOMERS are speaking, loud and clear. Kudos to this manager!
  • Do the right thing
    The man is a hero. He saved at least two lives and got a thug off the streets. Kroger should not fire him regardless of policy.

    I hope the Kroger execs ignore the clammering lawyers and simply "do the right thing" let this guy keep his job.

    If they fire the kid, I too will no longer support Kroger.
  • make an exception
    Let the kid keep his job, so long as he agrees not to bring the gun back. Just because Kroger adopted a rule, doesn't mean they have to enforce it on this occasion. Kroger can (and probably should) continue to communicate their 'no guns' policy.
  • USA Solution
    Insightful comment OAK with a great recommendation for the Company to address the policy violation. People should not have to work in crime ridden areas in fear of their lives.Life is stessful enough these days!
  • Nel, are you serious?
    I knew that there would be at least one who stated that the man was in the wrong for trying to protect himself, his store and the customers and here comes Nel. Unfortunately the widow of an unarmed manager at the 46th and Shadeland Safeway feels completely different. He did not bring his gun into the store (that pesky company policy) and was gunned down by an armed robber. Yes the Kroger manager may be viewed as judge, juror and executioner but he is my hero. The robber may have killed him and everyone in the store. In your world, only the crooks will have guns.
  • Don't fire
    If you fire this employee for trying to protect the other employees you would wrong to do so. If he did not step up possibly one or more of your employees would be dead right now. I say Good for Him. I have been a customer forever but if you fire him you can count on losing a loyal customer.
  • No Guns in Work places
    I'm not shopping or doing business anywhere that a company allows their employees to carry guns. People make horrible decisions in time of panic I don't trust anyone with a gun unless they're trained. Althought the young man was wrong for robbing the store, he did not deserve to lose his life. He might not have even been armed. A trained security guard or police officer would have handled it differently and that young man would still be alive.
    • Give Him A Raise
      If more people would stand up to these thugs like this guy did we could bring down robbery attempts. Shoot them, shoot all of them I say, and if they die, it is God's Will.
    • The Risk of Crime
      I applaud the manager and this should be a warning to all robbers--you just never know when someone is willing to put aside "company policy" to protect his or her own life and the lives of those who are being robbed or worse. It is sad time when criminals have more rights than victims. This man was committing a serious crime and he paid the price. It was undoubtedly not his first time robbing someone, and he knew the risks.

      Yes, Kroger will probably fire the manager, and Marsh should offer him a job immediately. OK, that won't happen, unfortunately. What Kroger should say is, "We have a policy that we must unfortunately abide by, so we terminated him. He receives our highest recommendation and we will not fight his unemployment claim. We also are proud of him for taking the initiative to protect another employee, and are thankful that all innocent parties were able to return home safely to their families."

      Let's not also forget that this man, even though he was protecting himself and another, also has to live with the image in his mind of seeing another person die at the end of his gun. While completely justified, I bet he has nightmares about it for the rest of his life.
    • Agree No Firing
      He should not be fired,but I would rather be fired than dead.
    • Do not fire him
      What if he was the one dead.
    • Promotion
      What if they "let him go", in accordance with the policy, then hire him back with a substantial pay increase?
    • Kroger Shooting
      At the end of the day, two things need to be considered prior to any action by Kroger. First, how would Kroger have responded if two employees were killed in a back office, because the felon wanted more money than the employees could provide? Second, it appears that people working in Convenience Stores and/or Grocery Stores, with large amounts of cash, are suddenly the "hunted" not the "service provider". How do these stores plan to protect their employees?
      • Made in the USA
        This is the only country where criminals have more rights than the innocent victim. If the 'robber' would have stole money or perhaps killed someone, it would have been nothing but a few minutes of air-time, then we'd all continue on with our lives. Now that the victim (Kroger)or any other business defends itself, let's make them the criminal. Is this system bass akwards or what? Discipline by making the Manager take constructive learning courses on 'How to handle a robbery situation." This way, both the Manager & business become better educated...Wow...wouldn't that be brilliant.
      • NUTS!
        If they fire him, it will be the last time I ever spend a dime at Kroger. That man is a hero!
      • If they fire him-they are wrong
        After recent events at stores (Village Pantry for one), there was no choice but to stand up to this robber. One of the Krogers employees might have been in the same state as the poor woman shot recently at the Village Pantry.
      • Manager is a hero
        There was a man committing a felony crime, robbery--often committed with a deadly weapon or a concealed deadly weapon. The manager defended himself and the people under him. You can't expect him to "wait" to see if there if the criminal deadly weapon out in the open. The manager is a hero.
      • He's Fired
        They are going to fire him. It is their policy. I should know I used to be a manager there.

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