PASADENA, Texas (AP) _ A convenience store cashier who wounded a gunman who had robbed her store says she was fired for violating a company policy that forbids employees from carrying weapons while working.

''It's terrible, but that's the way life is,'' said Mary Woods, 56, who was fired almost immediately after Tuesday's holdup.

Ms. Woods was taking garbage behind the store when a man snuck up and stuck a gun in her ribs, said police spokeswoman Betty Parks. The man took her into the store and told her to empty the cash register drawer into a paper bag.

Ms. Woods followed the man's orders but pulled a .32-caliber revolver from her pocket and turned it on the thief when he wasn't looking. The thief also fired his gun, but Ms. Woods' bullet struck him near the spine.

''I was terrified,'' she said. ''I just reacted automatically. I don't know what happened.''

The gunman's shot struck a fire extinguisher and the chemicals gushed out and made it impossible for the cashier or the thief to see, police said.

Ms. Parks said the gunman ran off, leaving behind his gun, the $40 from the cash register and a hat. A police dog tracked down the man, who had collapsed in the front yard of a house.

Ramon Avilez Jalomo, 31, was charged with attempted capital murder and aggravated robbery. Bond was set at $20,000. Jalomo was in stable condition at Ben Taub Hospital's county jail ward. No charges were filed against Ms. Woods.

A spokeswoman for Charter Marketing, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based firm that owns the store, told The Houston Post the store does not keep much cash around and has specific safety procedures that employees are to follow during holdups.

''We certainly do not endorse the employee doing anything to endanger themselves or our customers,'' the spokeswoman said.