A female gas station cashier in Washington state had no time to react amid an onslaught of punches and kicks to the face and head during a violent robbery.
Leah Johnston was attacked by six suspects, some thought to be just teenagers, while working at Friendly Normandy Market in Normandy Park on September 15.
The gang piled cigarettes and candy into their arms and stripped the register of cash before escaping.
‘Kids don’t seem to fear anything anymore,’ Johnston told FOX 13. ‘There’s like, no repercussions for them the way there used to be.’
The thieves were laughing as they raided the shelves and one of them landed blow after blow on Johnston, even after she cowered on the floor.
‘I know of people who have been robbed, I know in the back of my mind it can always happen. But I never thought that I would be attacked the way I was attacked,’ Johnston said.
‘I mean, my face hurts. But my pride I think hurts more.’
Leah Johnston was working at Friendly Normandy Market when she was ambushed by a group of six thieves wearing masks and hoods
Security camera footage shows the moment Johnston was attacked by one of the suspects, who began punching her in the face
Some of the suspects are thought to be teenagers. They made their escape in two stolen cars
The attack, which was captured on a security camera inside the store, lasted about 20 seconds but is brutal to watch.
Footage shows the moment one hooded suspect runs at the cashier and begins to punch her in the face while three others flock to the shelves to grab merchandise, scattering it across the floor.
A fifth suspects rummages through products on the other side of counter.
A man clad in a sweatshirt with a decal reading ‘PRIMITIVE’ on the back meanders over to the cash register and begins to toy with it until it opens.
Johnston cowers, turning away and covering her face to defend against the blows.
Her attacker then begins kneeing her violently in the chest and punching her in the head until she falls to the ground.
The suspect continues to kick her until he notices the suspect at the cash register has taken all the bills, then follows the others out of the store.
At one point Johnston pleaded for her assailant to stop as she wasn’t fighting back.
Using her arms to cover her face, the cashier attempted to defend herself
She was eventually knocked to the ground and kicked repeatedly while the suspects stripped the shelves of merchandise
Johnston KIRO7 that she would not ‘let them win’ and would return to work following a break
The suspects took tobacco products, candy and less than $100 in cash.
‘It’s just amazing that they would do it for as little as they got,’ Johnston told KIRO7.
The cashier planned to take time away from work following the brutal assault but vowed to return.
‘I’m not walking away from my job. I like this community. I like the people and I love my job,’ Johnston said.
She added that the store was planning to increase security measures to prevent future attacks.
Normandy Park Police Chief Dan Yourkoski said a special unit of the King County Sheriff’s Department was assisting in the investigation.
Police did not believe a weapon was used in the attack. None appeared on the security footage.
The suspects were driving a stolen Kia and Hyundai, both of which were later recovered.
The robbers took candy, tobacco products and less than $100 from the cash register
Johnston said the store would increase security measures in light of the attack
The makes of the cars are significant as they were subject to a spate of thefts after a TikTok trend instructed youths on how to start them using just a screwdriver and a USB cable.
The trend started in 2021 with a ‘how to’ video by a pair of masked individuals called ‘Kia Boyz.’
They showed how to hotwire a Kia by opening the steering column with a screwdriver and sticking the USB into the ignition cylinder.
Kia and Hyundai models manufactured between 2011 and 2021 are missing engine-immobilizer systems which makes them vulnerable to attacks.
A class-action lawsuit filed in Iowa in August of last year said the cars were ‘easy to steal, unsafe, and worth less than they should be, if they did not have the defect.’
Los Angeles officials said the viral trend led to an 85% increase in car theft of Hyundais and Kias in 2022.
In Prince George’s County, Maryland, police said stolen Kia and Hyundai cars made up nearly one-sixth of all thefts in 2022 and nearly half of all thefts as of January 2023.