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Chick-fil-A worker stops attempted carjacking — his 2nd on-the-job rescue

A Chick-fil-A employee outside a restaurant in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., rushed to help a woman holding a baby from being carjacked, officials said Sept. 14. (Video: Molly Kelner via Storyful)

A woman was taking her baby out of her car at a Florida Chick-fil-A on Wednesday when officials say a man approached her with a stick, grabbed her keys and got into the vehicle.

She screamed for help. A Chick-fil-A employee responded.

The worker helped subdue 43-year-old William Branch, who was later charged with battery and carjacking with a weapon, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. As of early Thursday, Branch remained jailed. It is unclear if he has an attorney.

A one-minute video from a bystander outside the Fort Walton Beach fast-food restaurant shows the Chick-fil-A worker tackling a man and wrestling with him on the ground as a woman holding a baby screams, “Somebody help!”

Within seconds, the employee put the man in a headlock and held him down, the video shows. The employee then got on his feet and placed his hands on the man, who sat on the ground without fighting or trying to escape.

As the man sat on the ground, a second woman holding an infant screamed in his direction: “She had a baby in her hands! How dare you!”

Sheriff’s deputies said Branch punched the employee in the face during the tussle. Neither woman was injured.

“A major shout-out to this young man for his courage!” the sheriff’s office wrote.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Matthew Sexton, the operator of the Chick-fil-A location, called the incident “alarming” and said he was relieved his employees and customers were safe. He identified the employee who intervened as Mykel Gordon.

“I couldn’t be prouder of his incredible act of care,” Sexton said. A Chick-fil-A spokesperson said Gordon was not immediately available for an interview Wednesday night.

Wednesday’s incident was not the first time Gordon put himself in harm’s way to help someone while on the clock. In September 2018, while taking orders outside the Fort Walton Beach Chick-fil-A, Gordon was among the first to respond when a crane fell onto a car, the Northwest Florida Daily News reported. A teenage driver and her friend were inside.

Gordon told the paper that he dropped what he was doing and rushed to the girls’ vehicle, carrying one of them to safety. Other bystanders eventually assisted, and the group helped the other girl safely escape, the Daily News reported.

“I didn’t have any time to react,” Gordon told the paper. “It was nothing but instinct and I ran to the car.”

Originally from Alaska, Gordon told the paper that his stepfather was in the military, “and I grew up doing what he was doing.”

“I think the Lord put me outside,” Gordon added in 2018. “As soon as this happened I had prayers in my head. I was helping her. I was on autopilot.”