CWRU employee breaks up gas station robbery

When Clifford Gregory took a campus vehicle up Carnegie Avenue for a regular fill-up, he never imagined his trip would make headlines on the evening news. But that’s precisely what happened as Gregory’s outing turned into a heroic adventure.

Gregory, a custodial services employee who joined the university 35 years ago, found himself foiling a robbery in the middle of his routine duties earlier this week.

The story began when Gregory drove a campus van to Karl’s Sunoco on East 84th Street and Carnegie Avenue, a gas station with which the university has a contract to provide gasoline for its vehicles.

As Gregory pumped his gas, a man approached and asked for a match. The man then quickly moved on to the gas station’s owner, Linda Greene, who was outside saying hello to Gregory. A customer then walked out of the gas station to her car, and the man approached, asked her for a light and grabbed her purse.

Gregory heard the scuffle and immediately ran over—“I didn’t think, I just did,” he said—pulling the man off of her and pinning him down. With the help of Greene and a store employee, Lexanna Sullivan, Gregory restrained the man until police arrived. Sullivan and Greene used a phone cord and yellow caution tape to tie the suspect’s hands and feet.

Police arrested the suspect and charged him with aggravated robbery.

This mid-afternoon incident was the first time the gas station had ever been robbed, and, thankfully, Gregory was there to help stop the situation.

“I just did what I had to do,” Gregory said humbly. “I couldn’t just stand there and let it happen.”

Gregory’s heroic actions come as no surprise to his supervisor, Joe Cooper. Cooper, the assistant director of custodial services, has worked with Gregory since Gregory’s start at Case Western Reserve in 1977.

“That’s his nature to do something like that. He’s a solid team worker,” Cooper said of Gregory, who can be seen in buildings all over campus providing supplies or collecting recycling.

Though this is his first experience breaking up such an incident, Gregory cautioned people to always be on the lookout for suspicious activity, no matter where they are.

“People will do anything nowadays,” he said. “I’m a grown man and I’m still always looking around me.”