‘I panicked,’ Raleigh gas station worker recounts robbery at knifepoint

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A woman is sharing her horrifying experience of being robbed at knifepoint and having her thumb nearly cut off.  

The incident happened while she was working at a gas station on Louisburg Road last week in Raleigh.

“There’s been robberies at that store in the past, but you never think it’s going to happen to you,” said Christiana Cesare.

Cesare said she was cleaning up at work when Samuel Leuci, 23, walked in.
Leuci was one of their regular customers, but this visit was anything but regular.

It started with Leuci not responding when Cesare greeted him.

“He then said something like, ‘Where’s the money?’ I thought I didn’t hear him right. I froze like, ‘What do you mean?’ and he pulls out a butcher knife, like an 8-inch knife. He started waving it over the counter and he’s like’ give me the f**ing money,'” Cesare said.

She says she went for her phone to call 911, but Leuci grabbed it.

“I panicked. I didn’t know what to do.”

He then pinned her against the wall with the knife in his hand, she said.

“He was a regular, so I really wasn’t expecting it. I was like, ‘You’re really going to do this? I’ve helped you out with money before.'”

In the process of trying to get away, she said Leuci badly cut her thumb.

“I saw it wide open. You could see the bone to my thumb and everything, like I thought I was going to lose it.”

Overcome with shock, Cesare opened the cash drawer and ran away.

Police said Leuci took money and then carjacked someone at knifepoint nearby. Records say while he was being treated later and arrested, he spat on an EMS worker’s face.

“As a customer, I always thought he was a little off, but I don’t know, I never thought he would go to that extreme,” Cesare said.

Cesare said her manager fired her for handling the robbery wrong.

“The company tells you to just give them the money, but you don’t know what you’re going to do,” Cesare said.

Her hand needs surgery. Doctors tell her it’ll never have full function again.

Cesare said she did not want to talk to the suspect, but did have one question.

“Not that I’d want to say, I’d just want to know, ‘Why?'” said Cesare.

Leuci is being held in Wake County under a $1 million bond.

CBS 17 reached out to Circle K corporate and the individual store for a comment on Sunday. We have not yet heard back.

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