"He's just the greatest, most polite guy you'll ever meet," said his boss, Frank Grecco, who owns the pizza shop. "He wasn't expecting this, he was just doing his job."
As Semde headed to the 27th floor, he came across two men in a hallway who started harassing him, saying they wanted a slice of pizza. Semde said no, that he had a delivery to make. But one of the men pulled out a gun and told him and Semde dropped the pies on the ground. As gunman reached down, Semde said he lunged at him, and toppled him off balance. The 6-foot-4 Semde scuffled with the men as building security making a routine check came by and the two fled.
Albert Alvarez, 19, was arrested and indicted on charges of attempted robbery, the district attorney's office said Monday. A call to his attorney was not immediately returned. The investigation is continuing.
Semde, who is living with a family as he studies English, said he was scared but that he did what he thought he should do in the situation.
"Right now I am a little bit scared of being here," he said. "But before this, never."
Semde, who started work Monday at 3 p.m., was back to delivering pizzas that day and works six days week. Grecco said he's proud of his employee, but he is also worried about him doing anything like this again.
"I told him – next time, leave the pizza!" said Grecco, a retired NYPD officer. "If someone wants to steal a pie, let them have it! If they don't like the style, we'll make them a new one. But get out of there safely."
The security officers called the police who responded within minutes. But before Semde went to the precinct to file the report, he delivered the pizzas.
One pepperoni, one cheese. Still hot.