Customers scramble during armed robbery at Houston deli

HOUSTON – A security guard strolling into a restaurant should ease concerns rather than raise them.

Until employees realize the man in the security jacket is pulling out a gun and demanding cash, that is.

That's what happened to cashier Arely Benitez at a Schlotzsky's restaurant this past weekend that left customers running for their lives.

"My mind was, like, everywhere," Benitez said. "I didn't know what to do."

Surveillance video showed exactly what happened at the restaurant on the 12400 block of Westheimer Road near Dairy Ashford Road in west Houston.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, the robber walked in and appeared to be checking out the menu.

Benitez said she was ready to take his order.

Then, without even looking at her, he pulled a gun from his waist, causing her to step back from the register.

"He just took out the gun," Benitez said. "He was, like, 'Give me everything.'"

He followed Benitez around the counter and, at that point, customers realized they were in the middle of an armed robbery.

In the surveillance video, a woman in a white hat put down can be seen putting down her tray and quickly making her way to the exit. Within seconds, two other customers also bolted for the door. Benitez was left alone with the robber and co-workers, who were in the kitchen.

"He was behind me when I was opening the cash (register)," Benitez said. "So I didn't know if he was going to shoot me or hit me in the head with the gun or something."

The armed thief forced Benitez to open the register and empty the drawer. He then walked out as calmly as he entered the restaurant.

Employees said the robber got away with a little more than $100.

Benitez said she has worked at the restaurant for nine months. It's the 17-year-old's first job. She said she eventually wants to become a nurse.

Anyone with information about the armed robbery or the suspect is asked to call Houston police.