Updated Nov. 15 at 10:21 a.m.
On Nov. 1, an employee at the Speedway Gas Station in Ranchos de Taos was working the night shift when a sudden commotion broke out.
“At 7:40 p.m. I observed a few customers enter the parking lot,” wrote the employee on a note submitted to management obtained by the Taos News. “A man walked from the north entrance past the doors by the ice machine … [then] a pedestrian rushed in and pointed a gun at my chest and demanded I give him all the money quickly and quietly. I emptied the cash from the drawer and handed it to him,” the note continued.
Shortly after reporting the incident to her manager, she said she was fired. She said she was the only employee on duty at the time.
A fellow employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to fear of losing their job, said they felt the situation was unfair.
“She had too much money in her drawer,” they said. “It was only a few hundred, but the management claims it's policy – the cashier gets the shaft after having a gun pulled on her.”
The employee said only a certain amount of money was to be held in the cash drawer as a matter of policy, and the fired woman had slightly more than the approved amount. “You can only keep 200 in your drawer not to be more than $100 over. So she was clearly over that,” said the employee.
They added that it's very common for workers at the Speedway to be alone at night due to the ongoing staffing shortage during the pandemic. “Upper management is not doing anything to protect their workers and have continually shown a lack of concern for the staff,” they said.
“I think it's imperative that the word is spread that these multi-billion dollar corporations are putting profit over people,” they said.
Speedway corporate offices did not respond to requests for comment as of press time Wednesday (Nov. 10).
“It's one of the most dangerous jobs with the lowest pay," said the co-worker. "And it's sickening that someone loses their job after having their life put in jeopardy.”
The anonymous employee said they had experienced this danger firsthand, though they had never been held up. “I worked there when it was Giant, so I was there when there was a shooting at the building, I've been there for when the cyclist was killed [last December] … then there was a drive-by in the back. There’s fights in the parking lot, it’s just ridiculous.”
They said they hope to see local law enforcement agencies increase patrols of the area. “Their presence is the deterrence. But, they're not really out there."
The Taos County Sheriff’s Office, whose officers investigated the incident, said they believe they have found the culprit responsible for the robbery after they arrested a 17-year-old male in connection to another robbery at the Phillips 66 on Nov. 7. The suspect hasn't been identified because he is a juvenile.
Taos County Undersheriff Steve Miera said that the juvenile who committed the robbery on Nov. 7 “did match the description that they gave and that they recovered from the cameras at the Speedway.”