BASALT — Bruno Kirchenwitz was fired Monday from his job at the Basalt 7-Eleven.
The firing came nearly two weeks after Kirchenwitz may have been the target of a person or persons who fired five shots from a rifle into the store. Kirchenwitz said a 7-Eleven official who called to inform him of his dismissal claimed it was unrelated to the shooting incident.
He isn’t buying it. Kirchenwitz believes he was fired because his presence as a clerk at the store could be bad for business. He is an outspoken critic of illegal immigration.
“Freedom of speech takes a back seat to profits,” he said.
Margaret Chabris, a 7-Eleven spokeswoman, declined comment Monday because it is a personnel issue, citing corporate policy. In general, she said, employees can be terminated after an investigation explores their relations with customers and fellow workers.
Kirchenwitz was on duty as a cashier June 26 when two Latino men entered the store and asked if he is the man 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 but never on the job.
The men threatened to show him what they thought about the hat. “I smiled and laughed and made jokes, then shooed them out the door,” Kirchenwitz said.
The men said they would wait for him outside to get off work. They left a short time later, at about 6:30 p.m.
Kirchenwitz got off duty at 10 p.m. and left the store to catch a bus about 15 minutes later. The shots blasted through a front plate glass window in front of the cashier’s station at about 11:10 p.m.
Another cashier and four customers, including a family with a baby, escaped injury. Basalt Police Chief Keith Ikeda said it was fortunate no one was killed or hurt.
Kirchenwitz was placed on paid leave shortly after the incident while 7-Eleven officials were in town investigating the shooting. He was told late Monday afternoon he was being let go because of a customer service incident that allegedly occurred on June 9.
Kirchenwitz said someone apparently lodged a complaint about an incident with him after it was publicized that he was placed on leave. He said he remembered no altercation with a customer and that the official who fired him was vague on details.
Kirchenwitz started as a cashier with 7-Eleven on April 18. He said he never received a written or verbal reprimand and was complimented for his performance by the Basalt store’s manager.
The firing didn’t surprise him. “In the back of my mind, it was expected,” he said.
On one hand, it makes sense, he said. About 75 percent of 7-Eleven’s customers in Basalt are Latino, he said, so his presence could be bad for business, at least among anyone in the country illegally.
But Kirchenwitz was angry that 7-Eleven wouldn’t admit what he believes is the obvious reason for his firing. “That sucks canal water,” he said.
When asked if he would appeal within 7-Eleven’s system or discuss his firing with the American Civil Liberties Union, Kirchenwitz said he would like to seek help from a different source – conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
Kirchenwitz, an outspoken critic of President Bush, said illegal immigration is about the only issue where he sees eye-to-eye with conservatives. If he got a chance to speak to Limbaugh, he said, he would sum up his situation as: “Poor white boy get shot at then gets fired.”
No Compromises sez: I’ve included 7-1’s corporate headquaters contact info in cases anyone got the notion to write them a letter letting them know that there are alot of us who will be BOYCOTT ING their stores because of this real hate crime. Here you go:
7-Eleven, Inc. Basalt, Colorado 7-11
Corporate Headquarters 23250 HWY 82
P.O. Box 711 Basalt, Colorado
Dallas, TX 75221-0711 Store # 22021