Ethiopian store clerk fired after he gave money to robbers to save his life

Ethiopian store clerk fired after he gave money to robbers to save his life

By Marcelino Benito

HOUSTON – It was an early Tuesday morning when crooks slammed a pick-up truck into a Timewise convenience store at 6155 Southwest Freeway.

They demanded the clerk fork over the cash or else.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” said clerk Petros Kenno.

The night of the robbery Kenno told KHOU 11 News the nearly $500 he was forced to hand over saved his life, little did he know it cost him something else.

“I got a text from my boss,” said Kenno. “It said Petros, I have bad news for you. You are terminated.”

Kenno texted back his manager and asked why? The response: too much cash in the register, a violation of company policy.

“I felt like it was over,” said Kenno. “It was the end of the world for me. This job is my life.”

He admits he should have never let the register fill up with more than $150 but never expected crooks would come barreling in when they did.

“I know I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have kept that money in the register,” said Kenno. “I was supposed to drop it, but I was working hard that night.”

Kenno says he’d been a good employee for 3 1/2 years. He first moved to Houston from Ethiopia and worked the overnight shift to help pay for his pre-med education.

“Without this job, my life is nothing,” said Kenno. “I felt like it was too early to terminate me. I need this job.”

Kenno says he’s even willing to pay Landmark Industries, the company that owns the convenience store and gas station back for the money he was forced to hand over in the robbery.

“You can cut my paycheck,” said Kenno. “I don’t want to lose this job.”

He’s tried calling area managers with Landmark Industries to appeal his termination as well, but got nowhere. KHOU made the trip down to Landmark Industries headquarters too, seeking an explanation.

A receptionist said no one was available to help. KHOU also sent the company several emails and left several voicemails, but got no response.

“My customers love me,” said Kenno. “I love them and I treat them like kings and queens. What I need is, I need this job. Even if it’s going to put my life in jeopardy, I still want to work there.”