COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A northern Idaho pharmacist who tackled a gun-toting robber and received a special award from the city of Coeur d'Alene has been fired for violating company policy.
Jerry Gunderson said he was dismissed from the Shopko pharmacy late last month because he resisted the robbery. A Shopko spokeswoman at the company's corporate office in Green Bay, Wis., declined to comment.
On Nov. 18, Gunderson chased after the gunman who police say had just stolen six bottles of anti-anxiety prescription medicine, then tackled him near the entrance of the store.
The suspect, Jason Anthony Wahl, (right) remains in Kootenai County Jail on $250,000 bond. (Read more here.)
Gunderson said he initially was only trying to get information for police. "I figured I'd get something, anything to aid them," Gunderson told the Coeur d'Alene Press.
"I wasn't trying to apprehend him at all. Had I known he had a gun I never would have gone after him."
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When Gunderson neared the front of the store he saw the man had tried to go out the store entrance but was blocked by the shut door.
"And there he was," Gunderson said. "And he says, 'I got a gun.'" Gunderson said he saw the man reach in his pocket. "I'm thinking, 'I don't want to find out the hard way if you have a gun,'" said Gunderson, a former college wrestler in the 189-pound category. "So I tackled him."
He said the gun fell to the floor and the two wrestled for it until police arrived a short time later and arrested Wahl, 29, of Pomeroy, Wash. Wahl has been charged with robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm and aggravated assault.
Gunderson later received a Citizen Appreciation Award from city leaders. Gunderson said he has since found another job at a different pharmacy.
Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Jeff Walther said the department doesn't encourage citizens intervening in robbery attempts, but that Gunderson's actions deserved recognition.
"It speaks even more to Jerry that not only did he put his safety in jeopardy, but his economic future," Walther said.
"It's done, it's in the past, I've moved on," said Gunderson. "My boss loved me, I know that. Someone 3,000 miles away decided to fire me."