(NEW YORK) — A woman who feared for her life as she was allegedly being held hostage in a New York City apartment found an alternative way to call for help without alerting her captor.
The 24-year-old woman was being held against her will in an apartment in the Eastchester section of the Bronx on Sunday after a man she met online allegedly sexually assaulted her, police told ABC New York station WABC.
The woman and the suspect had met in person for the first time months after they connected online, police said. The encounter soon turned violent, according to police, and the suspect would not let the woman have her phone — except to order food, the station reported.
Employees at the Chipper Truck Café in Yonkers, just north of Manhattan, received an order placed on Grubhub for a breakfast sandwich and a burger around 5 a.m. on Sunday, the restaurant’s owner Alice Bermejo told WABC. While the order itself was not unusual, employees noticed a hastily written note in the section for additional instructions, which said to call police and have them come with the food — cautioning them to not make the response obvious.
“She was basically saying to bring the police with the delivery,” Bermejo said.
Bermejo said her husband received a call from one of the employees who saw the order come up on the screen, asking what to do.
Bermejo’s husband instructed the employee to follow the instructions.
“He was like, ‘Call the police. Can’t take any risks. Better safe than sorry,"” Bermejo said.
Police responded and the suspect, 32-year-old Kemoy Royal, was arrested, the New York City Police Department told ABC News in a statement. Royal was charged with rape, unlawful imprisonment, strangulation, criminal possession of a weapon and sexual abuse, among other counts, police said.
Royal was also charged that day with the attempted sexual assault of a 26-year-old woman on June 15, the NYPD said. Police did not immediately say why Royal was not charged earlier for that incident.
Grubhub Chief Operating Officer Eric Ferguson reached out to Bermejo Wednesday morning and offered her $5,000 to invest in her business to recognize the quick-thinking of the owner and employee, Lisa Belot, director of public relations for the food delivery company, told ABC News over email.
“Every time we see a simple but extraordinary act like this, we are amazed by how our partners positively impact their communities,” Belot said. “From drivers delivering in difficult weather to our corporate employees volunteering at food banks to these restaurant employees in Yonkers who recognized a serious situation and acted quickly, we’re grateful and humbled that Grubhub can be a part of such incredible stories of kindness and heroism.”
Bermejo said she later received a phone call from the victim’s friend, thanking the restaurant for helping her.
“We really had no idea of the gravity of the situation until after everything had happened,” Bermejo
ABC News could not immediately reach an attorney for Royal.
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