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Chick-fil-A employee praised for saving woman and baby during carjacking

The woman was getting out of her car when a man approached her “wielding a stick and demanding her keys,” Florida authorities said.

A Florida Chick-fil-A employee is being praised for his heroic actions when, authorities said, he stopped a man from carjacking a woman and a baby.

The employee, Mykel Gordon, was working at a location in the Fort Walton Beach area Wednesday afternoon when the woman started screaming for help, Chick-fil-A and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said in statements.  

Image: Mykel Gordon
Mykel Gordon, left, was called a hero for stopping a carjacking outside a Fort Walton Beach-area Chick-fil-A.Chick-fil-A of Fort Walton Beach via Facebook

The woman told deputies that she was getting her nephew out of his car seat when the suspect, William Branch, approached her, an incident report stated.

The woman said the man was carrying a stick and "wielding it in a way she believed he would use it as a weapon," according to the report.

The woman said she stepped back away from the man and he lunged at her, grabbed her keys from her waistband and got inside her car, according to the report.

"When the victim began screaming for help an employee at Chick-fil-A ran to intervene," the sheriff's office wrote on Facebook.

Branch punched the man in the face but did not seriously injure him. Cellphone video taken by a witness shows Gordon and the man wrestling on the ground before other people run over. Gordon then holds the man down.

Branch, 43, of DeFuniak Springs, was charged with carjacking with a weapon and battery. It’s not clear whether he has obtained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

Authorities said Gordon told deputies that Branch had been involved in another incident at the restaurant on Wednesday. A second incident report alleged that about 10 minutes before the attempted carjacking, Branch reached into another woman's vehicle, unlocked the driver's door and got into the car.

He then sat on top of the woman, "placing all of his bodyweight" on her, and told her to get out, according to the report. After the woman screamed for help, Gordon intervened and chased off Branch, the report said.

The Fort Walton Beach Chick-fil-A called Gordon a "hero" for helping. "At Chick-fil-A our mission is to 'Serve' and today Mykel took it further……to 'Save,'" the restaurant wrote on Facebook.

Gordon's actions Wednesday weren't the first time he has lent a helping hand to a customer. In 2018, he helped two teenage girls after a truck failed to negotiate a turn and fell onto the girls' car, the Northwest Florida Daily News reported.

"God resonates there. It’s a miracle in many ways how this happened. But just to have people like this that step forward and make something happen, I know not everybody is gonna do something like that," the father of one of the girls told the newspaper.