7-Eleven places clerk on paid leave after shooting incident
BASALT, Colo. The Basalt 7-Eleven clerk who may have been the target of a shooting there last week said he was placed on one week’s paid leave of absence Saturday by the corporation.Bruno Kirchenwitz said he was placed on leave while “some guy from Dallas is going to come down and check it out.” The convenience store corporation is based in Dallas.Kirchenwitz said he has no reason to believe his job is in jeopardy. He noted that he works 32 hours per week at the store and was given 40 hours of pay during the leave.Margaret Chabris, 7-Eleven spokeswoman, said someone from the company is “probably looking into the situation.” She said there is no standard response after a major incident, like a shooting, at a store. Every case is different, she said.She wouldn’t comment on whether or not Kirchenwitz could be fired for the incident or, if so, on what grounds. Even if she knew, she said, a personnel action wouldn’t be disclosed in a newspaper article.A representative of the 7-Eleven security department and a representative of the company’s human resources department were investigating the shooting last week, according to a source familiar with the case.No arrests have been made in the case. The Basalt Police Department has questioned one man identified as a “person of interest.” It is attempting to identify and locate a second man.Kirchenwitz said he was working last Tuesday evening when two Latino males entered the store and asked if he is the guy who wears a “U.S. Border Patrol” baseball hat. He acknowledged he was, although he wasn’t wearing it at the time. He said he wears the hat to and from work nearly every day but doesn’t wear it at work.Kirchenwitz claimed the men threatened him three times within five minutes. At one point they said something like, “We’re going to show you what we think of that hat when we catch you alone,” he said.The incident has been inaccurately described in newspaper articles as a verbal altercation between him and the men, according to Kirchenwitz. He said he avoided arguing, as he has been trained to do. He even joked with the men before he realized they were serious about the threats. The men left the store without incident at about 9:30 p.m. on June 26. Kirchenwitz finished his shift and left the store at about 10:15 p.m. to catch a bus.An unknown person or persons fired five shots from a rifle through a front window of the store at 11:10 p.m. The shots were aimed at the cashier’s counter. A different clerk and four customers were in the store at the time, but no one was injured.Kirchenwitz said he believes the two men who confronted him returned and opened fire to intimidate him. Basalt police aren’t so certain. Police chief Keith Ikeda said the investigation is proceeding as if there could be a connection between the incidents, but no definitive connection has been made.Kirchenwitz said he believes the man who was questioned by police should have been arrested for threatening him. The man admitted to arguing with the clerk but claimed no knowledge of the shooting, according to Ikeda.There wasn’t enough information to arrest the man, Ikeda said. A specific threat to cause harm must be made, he said, and an alleged victim has to feel threatened.Ikeda said Kirchenwitz didn’t seem threatened because he told the two Latinos males at one point to “bring it on.”Police have video from a surveillance camera that shows the two Latino males in the store. Kirchenwitz said he was told by the store manager that audio tape was also turned over. With that information, he said, the police should be able to establish he was threatened.Ikeda said the man who was questioned was in the U.S. legally, thus he couldn’t be held on immigration charges. The man wouldn’t identify who was with him in the store. Ikeda said police are “close” to finding his identity.Legal or not, the issue has fanned flames in the debate over illegal immigration. Kirchenwitz said he has received significant support from valley residents who share his opposition to illegal immigration into the U.S.”People are angry. They are high-fiving me. They’re asking how they can get one of these hats,” he said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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