IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — A manager is no longer working at Kay Jewelers in Statesville after denying a uniformed deputy entrance to the store because of his gun.
The company made the announcement Thursday on Twitter, adding, "We are reinforcing store training regarding all of our Customer First policies, as well as specific policies related to law enforcement, in all of our stores."
The Iredell County Sheriff's Office posted about the incident on Facebook Wednesday, saying the man went into Kay Jewelers on Turnersburg Highway after being notified his engagement ring was ready.
"The deputy took his meal break to pick up the ring and was met at the door by the store manager, who informed him he was not allowed to wear his service weapon while on their premises," the post read.
The deputy told the manager he was in uniform and his marked patrol car was in the parking lot. He added it would be a violation to remove his gun.
"This policy is in place for not only the safety of the deputy but the general public as well. The manager stated our deputy would need to return to the store at a different time when he was not armed," the post read.
If a deputy is in uniform they are required to have their firearm, according to Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell.
"The deputy would never be able to disarm,” Campbell said. “It's against our policy in uniform 'cause what if somebody else comes to him for help? Or what if he had disarmed and a robbery happened?"
Campbell said the manager told the deputy to return to the store when he was not armed. The man left without the ring.
"The reaction our deputy encountered is very difficult for us to comprehend, and we earnestly hope situations such as these are few and are diminishing," the post read.
The sheriff’s office said it tried to contact the Kay Jewelers corporate office a number of times before making a post on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.
"It's not just an attack on this individual officer because of his chosen profession, it is on all law enforcement in this uniform just trying to simply make a purchase,” Campbell said.
The post received thousands of comments in support, including one from local Statesville store R. Gregory Jewelers that said, “We prefer for our officers to be armed.”
Matt Clendenin, part owner of R. Gregory Jewelers said he couldn’t believe the news when he read it on the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
“It was a little ridiculous for an armed, uniformed police officer not to be allowed in a business with his firearm,” Clendenin added.
He said he’s happy for any deputy, uniformed or not, to come in his store.
“They’re more than welcome to come in on duty or on break,” Clendenin said. “I’m not going to ask them to leave their firearm in their car.”
About 90 minutes after the Facebook post, Kay Jewelers commented with a response.
"Kay Jewelers is reaching out to the customer and the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office to sincerely apologize for the mishandling of this matter. We have tremendous respect for law enforcement, and we thank the office for bringing this to our attention. We will be sure to reinforce store training regarding our firearm policy with specific regard to uniformed law enforcement," the comment read.
The sheriff's office post has more than 4,500 comments and more than 5,500 shares as of 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Campbell said he is thankful for the support -- not only from the community in Iredell County but also the support the office is receiving from people across the country.
“We just stepped in because he [the deputy] was refused service based on his uniform and his chosen profession, which is law enforcement,” Campbell said. “And that’s why I got involved and that’s why I’m glad we took this stand that we did and hopefully prevent it from happening to another law enforcement officer somewhere else.”