CMPD: Men burst into Panera, fire gun before stealing employee's car

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Employees of a University City restaurant experienced some terrifying moments after two men burst in and fired shots during a robbery overnight.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police told Channel 9 that around 12:15 a.m. two men with guns went inside the Panera on JW Clay Boulevard and fired shots.

No one inside was hurt, but the men stole an employee's car.

The traumatized employee said she pleaded with the robbers, begging them not to kill her.

The gunmen left without hurting her but after stealing her car, she can't get to work and is worried she won't be able to pay her bills.

The woman who was working behind the counter after the restaurant closed saw her manager walking toward the service door, so she opened it to let him in.

That's when two men, armed with guns, jumped behind the manager and slipped inside.

A third man remained outside, serving as a look-out.

The two gunmen who were inside told the manager to help them get to the safe, but when the manager wasn't able to open anything, one of the robbers fired a shot into the door, threatening the employees.

Since the gunmen couldn't steal any cash from the safe, they turned on the employees.

Pleading for her life, the young woman behind the counter watched as the men grabbed her car keys and sped off.

Some UNC Charlotte students who eat and study at the Panera were shocked about the crime.

"I go to school right across the street and hearing stories like this, I just want to stay home," said Michelle Nguyen.

Police are looking for a 2011 red Mitsubishi Galant with North Carolina tag number DBF-2992.

"If it were me, I don't know how I'd react,” Nguyen said. “I'd be so scared."

Channel 9 asked Panera if they plan to hire security officers or take any other steps to keep this from happening again, but so far they haven't replied.

The shaken employee who begged for her life doesn't know if she could ever go back to work.

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