One Waffle House employee has found herself unemployed after attempting to foil a robbery in Coweta County, GA. Early Thursday morning three suspects passed a note to a waitress demanding money and threatening to shoot everyone. Heather Stanley, a different waitress, went out to her car to retrieve a gun. Stanley then fired one shot into the air while the robbers ran to their vehicles.
See the problem here?
“I didn’t know if they had guns. I didn’t know if they were going to their vehicle to get another one and could come back and try to get to the safe, so my instinct was to go to my car and get the gun,” Stanley said.
Waffle House has refused to comment on her firing, and Stanley says she was only trying to protect the restaurant and her co-workers.
“For trying to protect their Waffle House and trying to protect their money and to get their money back, they let me go,” she said.
Even with the repercussions, Stanley said she would do it all again.
“I know what I did. To myself I felt it was right and wouldn’t hesitate, I would do it again,” she said.
Regardless of what Joe Biden says, firing a warning shot into the air is never a good idea. You are responsible for every bullet that comes from your gun. Remember the 4th rule of gun safety?
“Know your target and what is beyond it.”
The neighbors to this Waffle House had their concerns.
“That bullet could have went anywhere, hit anyone,” Jamika Render said, “but I definitely think she had the right to defend herself.”
Everyone has the right to defend themselves, but firing a warning shot is both an unsafe and legally questionable act.
Ben Findley has a great breakdown on warning shots and the use of deadly force, the laws of which will vary state to state. And while we will never attempt to give you legal advice, it is safe to say that the use of deadly force usually comes right down to your belief that you are in imminent danger. According to Ben:
“Well, it is generally accepted that if you are being attacked and are in imminent fear for your life and/or great bodily harm, then you should take decisive tactical action immediately to save your life and to stop the threat….In the heat of a quick confrontation, it is very difficult to decide the appropriate level of force to employ. Using too little force could result in increased injuries or death, while using too much force could result in increased injuries or death and in legal issues. Also, if you believed in the heat of the typical 3-4 seconds ‘battle’ that the attacker had the ability, immediate opportunity and intention to cause death or serious bodily injury to you, why did you just shoot beside him or into the air with a warning shot and not shoot to stop the threat using deadly force? If you are firing a warning shot, are you really in fear for your life?”
If this waitress feared for her life or bodily harm, why would she fire up in the air instead of at the robbers? Since she made it out of the restaurant, why did she not flee for her life? These are not just questions we ask as a rhetorical exercise, these are questions a jury would have to answer.
Stanley claimed to fire into the air because she was scared of hitting a nearby gas tank. But by firing up into the air she put other innocent people at risk. While trying to follow the 4th rule she actually broke it.
The robbers got away, and they may be tied to several other Waffle House robberies in the area. The police have not mentioned if they will charge the waitress in this instance.
A gun for self defense is a wonderful thing when used lawfully and appropriately. Know the law and always follow the four rules of gun safety:
- Always treat a gun as if it is loaded.
- Never point the muzzle at anything you aren’t willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
- Know your target and what is beyond it.