ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — An Illinois Subway employee was suspended after a video of her bravely defending herself from an armed robber went viral online.
Arceli Sotelo was working alone at the Rockford, Illinois, Subway restaurant on Sept. 5 when a man walked in, demanding money.
Sotelo said she was scared for her life and, at the moment, decided to fight off the robber. Now, she says that a surveillance video of the incident circulating online is why she has been suspended.
“He kind of just showed me his gun, and I was like freaking out like, ‘Whoa, you can’t do that, please leave,’” Sotelo recalled. “(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.’”
The man did not leave and ended up grabbing Sotelo’s purse, so she fought back.
“He was smaller than me, so I have that advantage. I’m bigger than him, so I could at least put my weight on him, push him or something,” Sotelo said.
She said the man’s gun fell to the ground during the scuffle.
“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.”
Surveillance video from inside the restaurant showed the entire incident and was posted online. So now, Sotelo is suspended from her job.
“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.
Sotelo said she did not leak the video and said the owner is ignoring her.
“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.
NewsNation affiliate WTVO reached out to the Subway’s owner several times on Thursday but has not heard back. Police are investigating, and the video has been logged as evidence.
Sotelo said the man did not get any money from Subway, but he did steal her purse and broke her phone. A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for her phone repairs.