A now former employee of Academy Sports and Outdoors in Metairie says there should be more transparency in the store's policies when it comes to how employees can respond to shoplifters after she and two others were fired over a December incident according to what she told WGNO.

Michelle Sutton says she reacted when she heard over her work radio that someone was leaving the store with a gun that was being stolen. She says because she left what Academy calls "the front porch area" outside of the store she and two other employees were fired for chasing the people who were stealing the gun.

Sutton says she was hoping to be able to get information about the suspect that would help police track the person down so they could be held accountable.

The scenario was that a person was supposedly looking to buy a pistol, and while a store employee handed the gun to the suspect, thinking they were in the process of purchasing it, the person made off with the weapon. That's when the alert was sounded to employees of the store.

Academy Sports and Outdoors in Metairie
WGNO Photo
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She is a team lead at the store on Veterans Memorial Boulevard. According to WGNO, the employee policy states that employees are not allowed to chase or physically restrain a fleeing suspect. Sutton says she understands that, but she also wishes the manual would address the issue of trying to get information for the police on a suspect's identification. She says that's what she was trying to do.

This is what Sutton expressed to WGNO when they asked her about the situation,

There's no clarification on getting [the suspect's] location for police. I know my store director had said they want you to be able to get the make and model of a vehicle, you know, maybe a direction in which way the vehicle went.

As Sutton points out, the suspect fled on foot.

It's got to be such a difficult problem for retailers as policies have changed in the most recent years that revolved around store employees doing much less to confront shoplifters because they can be injured.

WGNO says they contacted Academy, but they did not respond with a comment.

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