Texas department store workers say they were fired for trying to stop shoplifter

Ross employees say they were fired for trying to stop a violent shoplifter.

Ross employees say they were fired for trying to stop a violent shoplifter.  (Google Street View)

Four Texas department store workers tried to stop a violent serial shoplifter from getting away, but the store ultimately fired them for their actions, two of the workers revealed Thursday.

Vernita Gill and Angelica Ortiz told KTRK they learned of their terminations one week after the incident at a Ross Dress for Less in Katy, west of Houston. They say the store claimed they violated its new policy against trying to stop shoplifters.

Gill said the suspect, 69-year-old Jane Marzell, used a large pair of pliers to cut off security tags from five handbags on the day before Thanksgiving. Surveillance video showed the woman hitting Gill in the face and bolting for the door, as other staffers tried to block the entrance.

Ortiz said she suffered a broken thumb in the scuffle. Investigators said the suspect escaped, but they finally arrested her Tuesday evening.

Marzell was charged with aggravated robbery. She had been convicted of theft four times before, according to KTRK.

The two workers who spoke to the news station said they received paid leave before their firings. Gill said she had another full-time job, but she was worried for the other fired employees.

"They are good people. They shouldn't have lost their jobs," Gill added.

A Ross spokesperson told KTRK, "Safety is a top priority in our stores. However, we do not comment on associate relations issues."