When an armed robber attacked her, a Subway restaurant employee fought back, ultimately getting the gun away from the suspect. However, despite her heroic efforts, her employer decided to make her pay for defending her life.
While working alone at a Subway eatery in Rockford, Illinois, Araceli Sotelo found herself in a struggle for her life after an armed robber entered the restaurant, WTVO reports. The suspect demanded money but soon turned violent, attacking Sotelo behind the counter.
“He kind of just showed me his gun, and I was like freaking out like, ‘woah you can’t do that please leave,’” Sotelo said. “[He said] ‘give me all the money’ and I said ‘I do not have any money, like, I do not have any money.’ That is all I had and he was just like, ‘give me everything before I hurt you.’”
Fearing for her life, Sotelo had no other choice than to fight back. As the pair scuffled, she managed to overpower him, causing him to drop his gun. Sotelo seized her chance, grabbing the weapon and pistol-whipping the suspect in the head multiple times until he relented.
“He dropped it trying to hold onto my purse, and I end up pulling his sweatshirt off him and I was like ‘show your face, show your face, you are on camera.’ and he was like ‘here you can have your purse back just give me back my stuff.’ He wanted me to give him back his gun and his clothes,” Sotelo said. “I just hit him on the head with it, that is what he was doing to me.”
Eventually, the robber fled, leaving Sotelo with his firearm but stealing her purse and belongings in the process. However, the courageous sandwich artisan now had bigger worries.
Sotelo says that her manager immediately suspended her following the incident, leaving her without an income. She also claims that the owner of the franchise told her that she won’t be allowed to return to work unless she gets every video of the surveillance footage removed from the internet, TMZ reports.
“I get a call yesterday it was like, ‘if every one of these videos are not taken offline you will be suspended,’ and then I texted them and I’m like ‘how long am I suspended for?’ They said till everything is removed online. I have no ability to do that,” Sotelo said.
Araceli Sotelo said she didn’t even leak the video but was punished because the owner didn’t want corporate to find out about the incident.
“They did not want anyone to know, they wanted to be private that it happened to me and that I fought back, but I think they did that because they do not want corporate to know,” Sotelo said.
Not only was Sotelo burdened by the fact that she has no income, but she also feared that the robber could show up at her home since he got away with her ID and personal belongings.
“I’m really scared about all of this because he did steal my ID. He does know where I live now,” she said. “What could happen to me? My own job isn’t even here to support me. It really is messing with my head.”
Sotelo said she wasn’t trying to violate company policy by fighting back. She explained that she had no other option since the suspect became violent and threatened physical harm.
“A lot of stuff could’ve happened. I was alone in the store and I was screaming out for help and no one heard me,” she said. “Once he started grabbing me and pushing me, it wasn’t really about money then. It felt like it was about, I don’t know. I was just scared.”
In light of Sotelo’s financial situation, a friend created a GoFundMe account. The funds will reportedly go toward lost wages and hiring an attorney to pursue the company in court.
“I’ve been reaching out to my manager and the owner of the company and neither one of them has reached out to me,” she said. “I’ve left them messages. They haven’t called me back or nothing.”
Araceli Sotelo not only has to fear a retaliatory ambush from her attacker, but she can’t even rely on her own employer to look out for her best interest. Instead, they have put the company ahead of their employee.
Sotelo is an employee that any company should be grateful to have. Something tells me that she won’t be out of a job for very long.