Subway responds after Illinois worker says she was suspended for defending herself during robbery

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The local Subway franchise owner has not confirmed the suspension of Rockford, Illinois employee Araceli Sotelo after she fought back against a would-be armed robber last week.

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

“I am suspended, I have not been put on the schedule. I am kind of just let go I guess, they have not reached out to me, and I think they’re just waiting for me to quit so they can spread out to the media that like ‘no we did not fire her, we suspended her but then she quit.’ That is what I feel like they want,” said Sotelo.

“I really put my life in danger. My life was in danger, and I feel like nobody really cares, because of that and they let me go, and I feel like they are just treating me like I never meant anything, like the way they just suspended me,” Sotelo said. “I feel like they are not concerned for me, they are concerned for their business.”

Sotelo said she has tried to call her boss several times, but he never picks up.

Sotelo was working alone at the store, at 1120 East State Street, on Sunday, September 4th, when a man walked in, demanding money.

“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.’”

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 Subway shows the entire incident and was posted online. 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 says the owner is ignoring her.

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.

Video of the incident was posted online and racked up more than 8.2 million views on TikTok.

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