The power of human instinct can never be underestimated. Manveer Komer can certainly attest to that, as his intuition was put to the test in November 2015 while working a shift at a gas station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After seeing a woman trembling with fear at the counter, he immediately leaped into action, telling her to get behind him.
Regardless of your profession, night shifts can often be daunting, but for Komer all seemed well as he started his overnight work on November 11, 2015. He was a clerk at an Exxon gas station in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond area. However, Komer’s evening took an unexpected turn when two customers entered the station’s convenience store.
With CCTV cameras situated all around the gas station, a man and woman were captured walking into the store from their car. As the pair stepped through the doors, the man appeared to wave in Komer’s direction, raising his hand in a friendly manner. From there, they headed to the left of the entrance, walking to an ATM.
However, the duo were unable to withdraw any cash, prompting them to approach Komer’s counter. The man proceeded to buy a pack of cigarettes with the woman’s credit card before leaving the store. Despite that seemingly routine transaction, though, the clerk felt something wasn’t quite right.
“I was looking,” Komer told ABC News station WPVI-TV in November 2015 of the situation. “This is not a boyfriend, not a girlfriend.” With his suspicions raised, the clerk noticed one more thing that really set the alarm bells ringing in his head. The woman at the counter was visibly trembling and afraid.
The security footage captured her a few steps behind the man when leaving the store, before Komer decided to act. He left his position at the counter and raced over to the woman, stopping her at the entranceway. “You come behind my back,” the clerk recalled telling her to WPVI-TV. “I help you. No problem.”
Komer placed himself between the pair, standing up to the man outside the store soon after. However, the tension escalated as the CCTV cameras captured the latter reaching into his jacket pocket, suggesting he had a weapon. A few moments later, he returned to his car and promptly departed the gas station, leaving the woman behind.
The woman claimed that she had been abducted earlier that day in a parking lot close to Pennsylvania Hospital, where she worked as a doctor. The kidnapper in question, named Nathaniel Rodriguez, reportedly pulled a gun on her, before coercing her into her vehicle. From there, police say that the pair traveled around the city for the rest of the day, taking money from the woman’s bank account.
However, when they used the ATM at the gas station, the doctor’s debit card had run over the daily cash limit, sparking the incident with Komer. During his confrontation with Rodriguez, the clerk allegedly told him to hand over the woman’s phone and car keys, before driving off in her Honda. Despite that, though, his escape was short-lived.
After Rodriguez drove away from the gas station, with a friend in tow, he switched the doctor’s cellphone on. Unbeknown to him, though, the police were able to track his location thanks to that phone. Some time later, they caught up with the pair, arresting them both.
Rodriguez was subsequently charged with aggravated assault, carjacking, kidnapping, robbery among other offences by the authorities. However, this wasn’t his first brush with the law. A week before this incident, he had been charged for stealing items from the Pennsylvania Hospital.
Rodriguez’s case took another dramatic turn though, when he faced a federal grand jury hearing in January 2016. During that hearing, it emerged that he had kidnapped another woman on November 6, 2015, as she walked to the Pennsylvania Hospital. After being told that she had had no money, he had led her to two ATMs, withdrawing $400.
From there, Rodriguez allegedly hailed a taxi and fled the scene. With that in mind, the federal grand jury charged him with kidnap of the two women. He faced a maximum of life in prison if convicted of the charges.
However, in July 2016 Rodriguez pleaded guilty to the two charges of kidnapping in federal court. The prosecutors confirmed that, despite the plea, he could still face a life behind bars. As for Komer, his actions during the incident at the gas station in November 2015 didn’t go unnoticed.
After Rodriguez’s escape, Komer offered the doctor a bottle of water to calm her nerves, before calling the police. Although shaken up, she was unharmed from the incident. Meanwhile, the clerk himself was hailed as a hero for standing up to Rodriguez, ending the doctor’s hellish ordeal as a result.
The news story was uploaded to YouTube by ABC News on November 13, 2015, and drew an overwhelmingly positive response. The video, titled “Gas Station Clerk Helps Stop Alleged Kidnapping,” has earned more than 1.4 million views since then, as well as more than 3,000 likes. Meanwhile, Komer’s actions were heavily praised in the comments section by various online users.
“Just can’t ignore instincts, might save someone’s life,” wrote user Mich Elle. “Bravo Mr. Manveer!” As for user Van Le, she reiterated the danger Komer put himself in to protect the doctor. “Amazing. He is a hero,” she wrote. She added, “He [risked] his life to save a life. He could be killed too.”
That particular comment drew a response from user John Doe, who wholeheartedly agreed. “Yes [Komer] is,” he wrote. “A hero doesn’t necessarily wear a uniform, or a cape. It’s when an ordinary person is strong enough to fight off their own fear, out of the sheer desire to protect someone else.”
“When they decide to take that first step, to put themselves between a threat and an innocent, that’s when a hero is born,” concluded John Doe.
On November 11, 2015, Manveer Komer’s instincts suggested something was very wrong when a couple approached his counter at a gas station. Thanks to some quick thinking, though, he saved the woman from what turned out to be her kidnapper. It was an incredible act of bravery that will be remembered for some time yet.