FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) – Thomas “Mykel” Gordon started his shift at Chick-fil-A like any normal Wednesday – the 26-year-old from Florida had no idea his decisive action later that day was about to go viral.
“I was getting some orders done, taken out on the POS and I just heard a call for help and all I could do is respond as fast as possible,” said Gordon.
The suspect, William Branch, is charged with threatening a military wife and young child with a sharpened plank to steal their car in the parking lot.
Gordon instantly ran to the commotion and pulled William Branch out of the car.
“As soon as I arrived, I saw him trying to get into the vehicle. I just pulled him out and I put him in a headlock,” said Gordon.
Gordon kept Branch on the ground until deputies arrived on the scene. Witnesses recorded the incident and the video quickly went viral across the nation.
Gordon said the tackle was the second run-in he had with Branch. A moment earlier, Gordon said he ran him off from trying to steal a woman’s keys in the drive-thru line.
Branch did get a swing on Gordon, hitting him on his chin. The day-shift manager was back at work the next day serving sandwiches with a smile.
Gordon honored for his actions
Sheriff Eric Aden stopped by Gordon’s Thursday shift to present a challenge coin and community service award.
“What we say a lot of times is service is in our DNA. That’s our mantra, that’s our motto,” said Sheriff Aden. “You clearly have service in your DNA from the job that you do here but you served and protected yesterday and that is what we do on a daily basis.”
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While much of his Thursday shift was filled with media coverage, the community stopped by the drive-thru to tell Mykel thank you, giving cards and gifts to the young man.
“I joined this team 14 years ago, I never really saw this coming and never really expected that to ever happen,” said Gordon. “A very rare occasion.”
Suspect on a crime spree
It wasn’t the suspect’s only crime that day, according to Orange County Sheriff’s Office officials.
“The same suspect had burglarized a local home earlier the same day in the city of Fort Walton Beach, attempting to steal a purse before being confronted by the homeowner,” said Chief Deputy Ken LaPee.
Branch faces robbery with a firearm, robbery with carjacking and burglary charges.
Gordon has worked for Chick-fil-A for 14 years, and this is not his first time saving a life in the parking lot. Previously, he pulled two people from a car after a nearby crane collapsed on top.
“A vehicle that just came around this corner over here off of Beal Parkway. He hit the curve a little hard. It came down on top of a white sedan,” said Gordon. “The white sedan only had a few moments of just being able to stay on all four of the tires without them being compressed and compressed by the vehicle. So I was able to get her out and the other one out safely.”
OCSO offered Gordon a sponsored spot at cadet school if he wants to take his talents into law enforcement. Gordon however, sees his future working up the Chick-fil-A management ladder with the tagline “My Pleasure.”