At Mac’s Convenience Store on North Main Street in Rutland, a man wearing a hoodie and a bandana entered the store and threatened the clerk with a knife. The clerk pulled a gun and was later suspended for violating store policy.Don Pitaniello said Monday he’s been suspended from his job as a clerk at a North Main Street convenience store after drawing a gun on a knife-wielding robber Sunday night.
Pitaniello, 58, of Rutland, said he was preparing to close up Mac’s Convenience Store at 145 North Main St. before 9:30 p.m. when a man wearing a hoodie and a bandana over his face entered the store and threatened him with a roughly 5-inch blade.
“I looked up when I heard the doorbell chimes and saw the hoodie, the bandana, and a bag in his hand,” Pitaniello said Monday. “He walked up to the counter, laid the knife on it and said ‘Empty the register.’”
But the Vietnam veteran, who said he has carried a gun all his life, said he had his .380-caliber handgun in his grasp and behind his back before the unidentified intruder made it to the counter.
“I knew his intentions as soon as he came in,” Pitaniello said. “When he told me to empty the register, I cocked my head and said ‘Really?’”
At that point, the clerk said the man picked up the knife and “waved it in my face.”
Pitaniello said he responded by raising his gun and pointing it at the other man’s face.
“I told him he better get the (expletive) out of there,” he said.
Without a word, the intruder fled the store on foot and Pitaniello said he followed far enough to see the man running west on North Street.
During the brief exchange, Pitaniello said he prevented a robbery but violated several of his store’s policies, including a prohibition on bringing firearms to work and following an armed robber from the store.
Pitaniello said the incident could cost him his job but he doesn’t regret his actions.
“That store has been robbed eight or nine times and I always work nights,” he said. I’m a firm believer in having a gun and not needing it rather than the other way around. I can always find a new job.”
A manager at Mac’s in Rutland could not be reached Monday evening.
The attempted robbery represents the second time in a week that an assailant armed with a knife has demanded money from convenience store clerks in the city.
At 11:30 p.m. on Thursday a man wearing a blue hoodie and a blue bandanna over the lower part of his face and brandishing a knife entered the Mobil gas station and convenience store at the intersection of West Street and Ripley Road and demanded money. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Police investigators didn’t say Monday if they believed the incidents on Ripley Road and North Main Street were carried out by the same person.
Anyone with information about the armed robberies is asked to call city police at 773-1816.
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