NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — After days in the ICU, Elizabeth Arvelo, the Tim Hortons shift manager who was brutally attacked on Sunday while working, is speaking out about the terrifying incident.
“All I planned on doing that day was going to work, taking care of my shift, making sure my employees were good and going home,” Elizabeth Arvelo said.
Arvelo, 42, was a shift supervisor at the Tim Hortons on Pine Avenue in Niagara falls. She was working 1 p.m. to close on Sunday, May 28 when she says she was brutally attacked.
This is a story Arvelo shared in an exclusive interview with News 4’s Tara Lynch.
She says it began when several teenagers walked into the store without an adult. Per that location’s policy, no children under the age of 18 are allowed in the store without an adult, according to Arvelo. She says she asked the teens to leave. After they pleaded to order a few drinks, she allowed them to make their purchase and then told them to enjoy them elsewhere.
She says the teens lingered in the lobby of the store and she had to ask them to leave an additional time. They eventually left, but were “talking trash,” according to Arvelo. Minutes later, they returned asking if Arvelo had a problem with them.
“If there’s a problem and if you guys are upset by me asking you to leave, you can have your mothers come in here and talk to me like adults and I’ll explain to them why I asked you to leave my store,” Arvelo explained.
Arvelo says she called the police after feeling like there would be a problem with the group who remained on the store’s property. That’s when several women entered the store asking store employees ‘Who called my daughter a b–?,’ according to Arvelo. She says the front counter clerk told them no one said that, but then several people, whom Arvelo claims she doesn’t know, went around the counter and began allegedly attacking Arvelo.
“Before I could even completely turn around, I could just feel fists on my face, on my head, pulling my hair,” Arvelo added. “It was terrifying because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if they pulled me the wrong way and I fell on the ground instead of punch me where they’re gonna start kicking me and stomping on me.”
The Niagara Falls Police Department announced Thursday that two Niagara Falls women and a 13-year-old will face charges tied to the alleged assault.
Brittny Robinson, 37, and Brionna Harris, 30, both were arraigned on charges of second-degree gang assault for their alleged role in the attack.
Additionally, the 13-year-old will face the same charge over their alleged involvement in the attack and will be issued an appearance ticket to report to Niagara County Probation. The juvenile’s case will be handled in Family Court.
Arvelo says another store employee tried to break up the altercation and was also hit. She says several store employees are distraught over the incident.
Arvelo says she was transported by ambulance to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and was discharged that night after undergoing scans and tests. After driving back to her home, she says hospital staff informed her she had a brain bleed and needed to go back to the hospital immediately. She says she was a patient in the South Buffalo Mercy Hospital ICU for a few days before being discharged on Wednesday.
Arvelo has visible bruising on her body, even walking with a cane, and says she still has the brain bleed. She says she is under strict surveillance and will have to go back to the hospital if anything changes with her health.
She calls it a long few days and says she does not feel safe working at that Tim Horton’s location. She doesn’t plan on going back to work there ever again.
“As soon as I close my eyes, I start seeing episodes from that day and I’m just jumping right back up. I’ve been up for days. It’s hard and I cannot do it because I do not feel safe,” Arvelo said.
She says Tim Hortons and her employees have reached out to her, which she is grateful for. After working in food service management for more than two decades, she still wants more safety measures for restaurant staff.
“Anybody at any given time can walk in them stores and walk right behind the counter. There should be some kind of… more safety for your employees,” Arvelo said. “All we want to do, just like them, is come to work, do our job, be able to provide for our families and go home and live our lives, but we can’t because we have situations like this.”
A GoFundMe has been set up for Arvelo, which can be found here.
Arvelo says she is grateful for the community’s support and for the medical staff who helped her get back on her feet.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.