Armed patron stops attack on Applebee's employee

Armed patron stops attack on Applebee's employee
CHARLIE RIEDEL

An armed citizen at a central New York Applebees stepped up and defended employees after a man grabbed a steak knife and started slashing at workers on Saturday evening, pulling a gun and holding the suspect until police showed up minutes later.

According to authorities in New Hartford, New York (a suburb of Utica in Oneida County), the man who went after employees had previously been kicked out of the establishment. They say 28-year-old Esteban Padron came back to the restaurant at about 6:45 on Saturday evening, and that’s when the trouble began.

Workers recognized Padron because he had previously been to that Applebees and been forced to leave for disorderly behavior, police said. He was asked to leave and started fighting with workers, police said.

Padron went behind the bar and grabbed a steak knife, slashing a worker in the face with it, police said. Another worker was also injured during the fight, police said.

A man eating in the restaurant noticed Padron’s behavior and pulled his gun on him, ordering him to the floor and to release the knife, police said. The man is licensed to carry the gun, police said.

Padron went to the ground and let go of the knife, police said. The man kept him at gunpoint until police arrived, they said.

When police arrived, they arrested Padron and charged him with second-degree attempted assault, two counts of third-degree assault, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, police said. He was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital for a mental health evaluation, police said.

Thankfully, no more employees were injured once the armed citizen saw what was happening and grabbed his gun to intervene. Padron himself wasn’t injured, nor did the gun owner have to pull the trigger to stop the attack in the crowded restaurant. The presence of that firearm in the hands of the law-abiding citizen was enough to convince Padron to stop swinging the knife in his hand, drop it to the floor, and get down on his knees himself.

In most states, that would be the end of the story, but this is New York that we’re talking about, and among the many “sensitive places” where concealed carry is currently prohibited are all bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. While U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby put that particular provision on hold by granting a temporary restraining order against the state, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, which means that the armed citizen was violating state law by bringing his firearm into Applebee’s regardless of whether or not he had a concealed carry license.

It doesn’t appear that the armed citizen in question was arrested by arriving officers, thankfully, but it’s going to be very interesting to see if New Hartford police or the Oneida County District Attorney pursue a case against the gun owner. Dan Sullivan, the county’s assistant pistol licensing officer, was presented with a hypothetical situation by a reporter just a few months ago; what happens if a licensed concealed carry holder stops an attack in a business where they’re not allowed to bring a gun? Could they face charges? According to Sullivan, the answer is yes.

“Yeah, the person will probably be charged with a class A misdemeanor. I think under the circumstances, the charge would probably go away, that’s up to the district attorney’s office,” says Sullivan.

Let’s hope that’s the case here. In fact, I hope the Oneida County D.A. is very public in his decision not to charge the armed patron with violating the Concealed Carry Improvement Act and to call out Gov. Kathy Hochul and her anti-gun allies in the legislature for their unconstitutional and unconscionable decision to criminalize the exercise of a fundamental right. If this armed citizen hadn’t been eating good in the neighborhood Saturday night with his concealed firearm on his person, who knows how much worse the attack on employees might have been? The quick thinking and fast response from the patron may very well have saved lives (and certainly saved other employees from a trip to the hospital), but if Hochul gets her way, this gun owner will be facing criminal charges for exercising his right to bear arms in defense of himself or others.