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Video: Subway worker suspended after disarming and stopping robber with their gun

24 Hour Subway Sign (Willis Lam/Flickr)
September 16, 2021

An Illinois Subway employee was suspended from her job after a video went viral showing how she managed to wrestle a pistol away from a gunman during an attempted armed robbery. In the video posted on Twitter, the employee is seen hitting the man on the head with the gun until he fled the scene.

According to the Rockford Register Star, Araceli Sotelo, 20, said the gunman entered the Subway at 1120 E. State Street shortly after 10:30 a.m. on September 5, about a month after Sotelo started her job. She was alone at the location and said she was never trained on what to do in the event of an attempted robbery.

“I was kind of like, I felt like I had no other options, you know?” she said. “I was alone in there, and anything could have happened, you know? So, I did what I thought was right.”

Sotelo said she was suspended after video of the struggle between her and the gunman circulated on social media. The store’s owner declined the Register Star’s request for comment.

Sotelo said the video is from the Subway’s own security cameras, and the store owner said she could only return to work once the video was removed from the internet entirely.  

“I was really mad because I didn’t post it,” she said. “I texted him and said, ‘How long am I suspended for?’ And he said, Until everything is removed offline.’ I don’t have capability of doing that.”

After her suspension, Sotelo shared the video on her personal TikTok under the handle “yadalove07.” While the robber was not able to steal any money from the store thanks to Sotelo’s determination, he did take her purse. Her phone was also damaged during the confrontation.

The store’s owner has not offered to pay for any of her stolen personal items, the damage, or her medical bills.

“We are deeply concerned about the recent incident at a franchised location in Rockford, Illinois,” Subway’s corporate office said in a statement. “The restaurant owner and management are fully cooperating with the police investigation, and we request patience until that process is complete.”

The Register Star reported that the gunman is still at large.

Sotelo is considering suing her employers, and her mother set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for legal bills and lost wages. As of Thursday morning, the GoFundMe has raised just over $19,000.

“My name is Sylvia Oviedo and over the weekend my daughter was robbed while working (alone) and she fought him off and he only took HER purse. Nothing from the store was stolen. Her manager has now suspended her from work leaving her without a job after she heroically defended the store,” Sotelo’s mother wrote in the GoFundMe description. “My daughter now has a broken phone, no ID, No debit card and no purse and he rufuses to compensate her for any of it.”