An Illinois Subway sandwich shop worker bravely fought back against an armed robber, hitting him with his own gun — just to get suspended after posting now-viral leaked footage of her heroism, she said.
Araceli Sotelo was caught on camera on Sept. 5 as she screamed for help and begged a hooded robber to stop hitting her while she worked alone at a branch in Rockford.
“He kind of just showed me his gun, and I was like freaking out,” she told WTVO. “[He said] ‘give me all the money … give me everything before I hurt you,’” she recalled of the terrifying confrontation.
After at least a minute of pleading with her attacker, Sotelo finally struck back — hitting and pushing him and trying to get him in a standing headlock, the footage showed.
“He was smaller than me, so I have that advantage … I could at least put my weight on him, push him, or something,” Sotelo told the local station.
During the struggle, Sotelo’s purse fell to the ground — as did the robber’s handgun.
The sandwich-shop worker quickly grabbed the weapon, pointing it away for safety — but using it to smack the robber at least once in the head, which was covered in a black hood.
“He dropped it trying to hold onto my purse, and I end up pulling his sweatshirt off him,” she told WTVO, saying she wanted him to show his face for the security cameras.
“He wanted me to give him back his gun and his clothes,” Sotelo said.
Instead, “I just hit him on the head with it, [because] that is what he was doing to me,” she insisted, saying he then ran off with her purse.
Sotelo posted leaked footage of the attack to her TikTok — getting more than 9 million views by Monday.
But a day after sharing it, she wrote an update saying, “I was suspended from my job after this incident.”
She told the local TV station that it came after she was called and warned, “If every one of these videos are not taken offline, you will be suspended.”
“They said till everything is removed online. I have no ability to do that,” Sotelo said, saying she had merely reposted the clip that was already online.
Sotelo claimed that she was being punished because her bosses “did not want anyone to know” that she was violently attacked while alone.
“They wanted to be private that it happened to me and that I fought back,” she claimed, saying she was suspended “because they do not want corporate to know” what had happened.
Her mother, Sylvia Oviedo, launched an online fundraiser to cover her daughter’s lost wages and to hire an attorney — quickly getting more than $15,000 donated.
She noted how her daughter was vulnerable from being left alone at the time — and that “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,” the proud mom said.
“My daughter now has a broken phone, no ID, No debit card and no purse and [her manager] refuses to compensate her for any of it,” she said.
Subway refused to confirm or deny to The Post whether Sotelo had been suspended, or to explain why. The fast-food giant would only say in a statement that it was “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,” the company said.
Asked again if she had been suspended and why, the spokesperson said that “every restaurant is independently owned and operated.”
“We are in contact with the franchisee to better understand the situation and assist as needed,” the spokesperson said, again refusing to address the suspension.
WTVO said the owner of the Rockford branch also refused to respond to numerous requests for comment. Police told the outlet that they are still investigating, and the video has been logged as evidence.