Outraged by the news that a Nashua convenience store clerk was fired for defending himself with a handgun, protesters will rally outside the local gas station Saturday to call for better security for late-night workers.

Nashua resident Kevin Boyle and others are planning to gather at 2 p.m. near the Shell gas station at 301 Main St. They will highlight what they believe was a disgraceful decision to fire an employee who stood his ground during a robbery attempt early Monday morning.

Shannon “Bear” Cothran was alone inside the gas station when a man brandishing knife entered and demanded money around 3 a.m. Cothran pulled a concealed handgun from his pocket, sending the robber fleeing.

Although the robbery attempt was thwarted, Cothran was fired a few hours later by the owner of the gas station, Nouria Energy. Cothran said he was terminated because employees are prohibited from carrying guns.

The decision was made by Nouria executives, despite the fact that a store manager and district manager both tried to save Cothran’s job.

Boyle, a longtime friend, said he was shocked that Cothran’s employer deliberated for less than a day before firing Cothran, an employee of 10 years.

“They should have thought a little bit harder about this. And the fact that he lost his job so fast, especially when his management team went to bat for him, is ridiculous,” Boyle said.

Boyle met Cothran seven or eight years ago, and the two have been close friends ever since. He said Cothran helped him through an emotional divorce last year and has exemplified integrity and honesty in the time they’ve been acquainted.

“Bear is an outstanding man, and he works hard for what little money he does make,” Boyle said. “He’s a great family man. This whole thing’s a tragedy in itself.”

With a slew of robberies taking place in Nashua this year, Boyle said he and Cothran discussed the possibility that the Shell station on Main Street would be targeted. Cothran is set to get married next month, and Boyle said he feels it was an obvious choice for Cothran to continue carrying his firearm for protection.

Although he isn’t a vocal Second Amendment advocate, Boyle said he hopes to draw attention to the lax security measures in place at late-night convenience stores around the country. He’s spreading word of Saturday’s protest on Facebook, hoping to drum up interest in Nashua and beyond.

“It’s not so much to get Bear his job back … but if anything, maybe we’ll make them realize that they need to fix their policy and fix the safety of their employees,” Boyle said.