HARTLAND, Mich. (USA Today) - Wal-Mart backtracked Friday on firing a good Samaritan employee who helped a woman being attacked in a store parking lot.
Kristopher Oswald, 30, of Linden, Mich. was fired Tuesday for scuffling with a man who was attacking a former girlfriend. The story of Oswald's firing made news nationwide and caused a furor against Wal-Mart on social-media sites like Twitter.
"We took a step back and looked at all the information," company spokeswoman Ashley Hardie said. "We realize his intentions were good, and we've reached out to him to offer him his job back and let him know that he's welcome back at the store."
Hardie said store officials left a message with Oswald but had not yet spoken to him Friday evening. Oswald wasn't immediately available to talk about Wal-Mart's decision.
At 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Oswald was taking a break from his $8.70-an-hour job stocking pet supplies when he rushed to help a woman in a confrontation in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart here where he worked. He said he was sitting in his car when he saw a man clinging to the hood of a car as its driver attempted to shake the man off by stopping and starting.
When the car stopped, the woman got out. The man on the hood grabbed her and pinned her up against the side of the vehicle as she screamed.
"I asked if she needed help," Oswald said. "She said 'Yes, please, help me.' "
By the time Oswald reached her, the man had gotten into the woman's car.
"I thought he was trying to steal her car," Oswald said.
"I fought tooth and nail to get that job. ... I was just doing what I thought I had to do."
- Kristopher Oswald, Linden, Mich.
When Oswald reached for the man through the open door, the man pulled Oswald inside and began pummeling him with punches.
As the two men wrestled to the ground, the woman got back in the car and drove off.
The man pulled the hood of Oswald's sweatshirt over Oswald's face, and then two of the man's friends from another vehicle joined the fray.
Oswald said six or seven of his co-workers eventually witnessed what was happening and rushed to help him.
The man who attacked Oswald got into another vehicle and chased the woman.
Oswald said he suffered only minor injuries in the attack. But the most startling development came late Tuesday when his managers summoned him to a meeting at the store.
Two assistant managers shook his hand and told him they were proud of what he had done. But then they told him they were required to fire him.
The paperwork they handed him read "due to a violation of company policy on his lunch hour it was deemed appropriate to terminate his temporary assignment."
Hardy, the Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said company policies are designed for the safety of everyone including employees and shoppers. She didn't know of any immediate plans to revisit them but said all such incidents are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Oswald said he doesn't blame the assistant managers who gave him the news.
"This decision was passed down to them from above," he said.
But he did say he was mad because he had fought "tooth and nail" for the job in his rural community where work is scarce.
"I know it's wrong," Oswald said. "I was just doing what I thought I had to do."
Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte said deputies arrested the woman's former boyfriend, Dylan Tierney, 17, of Milford, Mich., for drunken driving, malicious destruction of property and domestic violence.
"If someone is getting assaulted, there's not a lot of time to think about it. I do appreciate the man coming to her assistance," Bezotte said. "We need more people who want to get involved. Law enforcement is only as successful as our people want us to be. For me, he did the right thing."