Update: On Sept. 20, Wertz confirmed to KRQE News 13 that she has since lost her job at the convenience store. Read more here.
ALBUQUERQUE N.M (KRQE) – She may not be in trouble with the law, but the female clerk who shot an armed suspect at the Circle K on Eubank and Candelaria, has been suspended from work.
“He was screaming, he points the gun in my face, and I just point, cock and shoot, and protect myself,” said Jennifer Wertz, the clerk that shot the armed man.
Wertz says she opened fire on the suspect, 23-year old Ferron Mendez, who police are accusing of trying to rob a Circle K at the corner of Eubank Boluevard and Candelaria Ave. NE just before 4 p.m. on Monday.
On Tuesday afternoon, Wertz stopped by the Circle K to tell KRQE News 13 her story. Recalling the moments before the shooting, Wertz says she was prepared to fight back because of a story she heard from a customer.
“I had a customer from 7-Eleven on Wyoming and Candelaria come in and say they were just held up, so I got very nervous,” said Wertz.
Albuquerque Police say the 7-11 at Wyoming and Candelaria was robbed on Monday afternoon, shortly before the Circle K shooting. However, APD has yet to confirm that the two crime scenes are connected. Wertz believes they are.
Wertz says the nearby robbery convinced her to prepare for the worst. She told KRQE News 13 that she retrieved a gun out of her car and went back inside the store.
“I walked over, I locked one door to make it a little more inconvenient, I put my gun in my pocket, it was completely visible.” said Wertz. “I do not have my (concealed carry authorization), so it was completely visible from my pocket,” said Wertz.
Wertz says the man entered the store, pointing a gun at her. Wertz says she drew her weapon and fired at the suspect.
Police say the suspect, Mendez, ran out of the store and collapsed in the parking lot behind the Circle K. Police say Mendez was still in the hospital Tuesday with critical injuries.
While the suspect is likely to face charges, police say Wertz is not at this point.
“I believe that everyone should have the right to protect themselves because cops are not always available, they’re not always there, there not always around the corner anymore, because there’s a lot of crime,” said Wertz.
However, the clerk may lose her job. Wertz says it’s against her company’s policy to carry weapons. However, she says she doesn’t regret what she did.
“I thought I was going to lose my life, I thought that there was no way I was ever going to see my family, my children, anything again,” said Wertz. “I now know can protect myself, I now know that I can think clearly and keep a level head and I have a darn good shot.”
Other clerks at convenience stores across Albuquerque were reacting to the situation Tuesday.
“I think it’s terrible,” said David Haacke of the attempted robbery. Haacke works at the Chevron at Montgomery and San Mateo.
He said convenience store clerks have to brace for the worst in their field of work.
“It’s definitely a risk of the business,” Haacke said.
However, Haacke does not keep a weapon on him at work.
“That’s probably against our company policy,” Haacke said.
With incidents like this, the gun shop Calibers said they do see more and more people wanting concealed carry permits.
“Due to the rise in crime and realizing that ultimately the individual is gonna be responsible for their own safety,” said Joel Long, Calibers fire arms instructor.
For some customers, however, a concealed carry does no good at work.
“We see people who will either have student agreements or employee agreements saying that they will not take firearms into that place of business,” said Long.
KRQE News 13 reached out to Circle K’s corporate offices on Tuesday night to talk to the company about safety as it relates to crime and their employees. The company had not responded as of 8:34 p.m. MDT.
“I unfortunately would do it again, if need be, come the subject or the situation, I would do it again,” said Wertz.