CLEVELAND--The owner of a Cleveland fast food restaurant says she and her employees fear for their lives after three armed robberies in recent weeks.
The terror for workers at Mr. Hero on West 130th Street began on December 1, when three suspects wearing masks barged into the store at lunchtime.
One of them had a gun and ordered an employee to open the cash register. He demanded to know if there was any other money, and when the employees said no, he and his two accomplices ran out the front door.
Then on January 4, a man wearing a mask stormed into Mr. Hero, told the employee he had a knife and demanded she open the register.
He then cleaned out the cash himself before fleeing. The first two hold-ups left the owner and her employees shaken and afraid to come to work.
Owner Alpana Patel told FOX 8, "It's very scary, because me and my employees, you know we're not safe right now, you know; something happen and we're always scared every minute that somebody is going to step in and do something."
And it happened again on January 7, when two young men, who may have been involved in the first hold-up on December 1, jumped the counter. One of them ordered the owner to open the register and fearing for her safety and that of her employees, she complied.
The second suspect was armed with a gun and demanded that an employee give up her purse and cell phone, and when she refused, he began striking her with the gun.
Eventually the gunman and his partner started to leave, and that's when Ashley Johnson, 24, grabbed a knife and threw it at the gunman who assaulted her.
She then chased after the suspects as they ran out of the store. Johnson told FOX 8, "I don't know; it just happened. It was a reaction that I just did. I don't know; it was just crazy. I couldn't believe it was going on, because I saw the pictures from before, I thought ‘man, it would be crazy if it happened to me.’ Before it was just the register, like ‘okay you can take that, but now you're taking our stuff, our belongings,' so now it's getting really scary."
The situation has become so dangerous, the owner now locks the doors during business hours and only buzzes customers into the restaurant after they knock. She is also spending $7,000 for the installation of a barrier with bulletproof glass at the front register.
Anyone who can help authorities identify the suspects in the three robberies is asked to call Cleveland Police First District Detectives at 216-623-2532.