A Michigan pharmacist who fought off armed attackers by firing a gun of his own to thwart a robbery attempt was hailed by many as a hero.
After the hair-raising confrontation that was captured on surveillance video, Jeremy Hovan’s employer rewarded him with a pink slip. Now, Hovan is fighting back, filing a federal lawsuit against Walgreens for wrongful termination.
“No life was lost, no life was harmed, and nothing was stolen,” Hovan’s lawyer, told NBC News. “So in that context, I think he was a hero. He was exercising his reasonable right of self-defense in the face of a gunman who attempted to pull a trigger three times and shoot him. Presumably, shoot him dead.”
Hovan was working the overnight shift at a Walgreens in Benton Harbor, Mich., when two armed gunmen burst through the front door. One pointed a gun in the back of one of Hovan’s fellow employees, while the other leapt over the counter into the pharmacy area. Hovan immediately grabbed a gun of his own in his left hand, while holding the phone in his right hand.
Caught on the surveillance video, the armed robber behind the counter attempted to fire at Hovan three times, but the gun malfunctioned. Hovan fired three shots of his own, causing both gunmen to flee the store without anyone being hurt or anything being stolen. A fellow employee quickly scrambled to retrieve one of the guns left behind. The two gunmen are still at large.
“I feared for my life, and in self-defense, I fired my weapon as I continued to move from him,” Hovan said. “He hurdled over the counter in a single motion and pointed his weapon at me. The gunman repeatedly attempted to fire upon me.”
The incident resulted in his termination. Hovan has a concealed weapons permit, but did not inform Walgreens that he was in possession of a gun at work — a weapon he purchased, he said, after the store was robbed in 2007.
“Store employees receive comprehensive training on how to react and respond to a potential robbery situation,” Walgreens said in a statement. “Law enforcement strongly advises against confrontation of crime suspects.”
Hovan’s lawyer said that Hovan never saw those store policies and acted properly. He added that Hovan continues to deal with the 1-2 emotional punch of having a gun pointed at him and nearly being killed and then losing his job on top of that.