BENTON CHARTER TOWNSHIP – Imagine you’re working the overnight shift at a pharmacy when two gunmen burst through the doors and jump the counter. Would you do what they say or take out your own gun and start shooting? A Benton Township pharmacist decided to shoot, then was fired from his job because of it. And it was all captured on dramatic surveillance video.
A week after the attempted May 8 robbery, Walgreens fired pharmacist Jeremy Hoven, 36, saying he violated the company’s policy about confronting suspects during a robbery.
The incident unfolded in a matter of 42 seconds. Two armed men stormed the Walgreens at Napier and M-139 in Berrien County at 4:30 a.m. on Mother’s Day.
The video shows one of the gunmen forcing an employee through the store at gunpoint. Then, a gunman jumped the pharmacy counter and pointed his weapon at Hoven.
“The gunman repeatedly attempted to fire upon me. I feared for my life and in self-defense I fired my weapon,” Hoven said.
The store surveillance video shows a phone in Hoven’s right hand and the gun in his left. He said he had tried to call 911, but didn’t have enough time. After he fired several shots at them, the gunmen quickly ran out of the store.
Hoven recently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Walgreens.
“Companies that do not allow employees to defend themselves put the employees in the position of simply submitting, possibly being killed – or, if they react in self-defense, being fired,” said Hoven’s attorney, Dan Swanson.
The damages he’s seeking are not named in the lawsuit, but Hoven’s attorneys say that will largely depend on how long it takes him to find another job and how that salary and benefits compare to what he had at Walgreens.
Walgreens issued a statement to WSBT, saying: “Our policies in this area are designed to maintain the maximum safety of our customers and employees. Store employees receive comprehensive training on our company’s robbery procedures and how to react and respond to a potential robbery situation. In past incidents, employees have told us they’ve found this training effective. These policies and training programs are endorsed by law enforcement, which strongly advises against confrontation of crime suspects. Compliance is safer than confrontation. Through this practice, we have been able to maintain an exemplary record of safety.”
The May incident wasn’t the first time Hoven had been through a robbery. In 2007 he was working the same overnight shift at the same Walgreens when a gunman went into the store. After that, Hoven said he asked Walgreens to put in a panic button or increase security measures. When the company didn’t, he decided to get his concealed weapons permit and started carrying a gun to work.
His wife is also a pharmacist, working the overnight shift at a different Berrien County Walgreens.