Bar patrons thwart armed robbery

An attempted robbery at a bar last night went wrong when patrons took to the offenders with pool cues.

Witnesses told The Daily Post two men burst into Whakatane's Kope Turf Bar in James St at 9.30pm.

One alleged offender, described as fat, ran behind the bar and pushed a female bartender out of the way before attempting to grab cash. The second man, armed with what was described as a sawn-off shotgun, stood at the door, witnesses said.

Patrons swarmed behind the bar to help stop the man and, while doing so, managed to land a few punches on him. The armed man rushed in and yelled at patrons to "get back or I will shoot".

Most people at the bar stepped away from the first man but one managed to grab a pool cue and smacked the armed man in the back of the head with it. Another man threw his pool cue at one of the alleged offenders.

 

When police arrived a man was being held by bar security and patrons. People could be heard telling the alleged offender that this was "their" bar and that no-one would be robbing it while they were there.

Police removed what looked like a firearm and placed it in the boot of one of the patrol cars.

A second man ran from the scene and was tracked by a police dog for a distance before the canine lost the scent.

Pub-goers spilled out on to James St and were interviewed by police with some also photographed.

The attempted robbery was the topic of discussion on Facebook this morning, including an account from a witness who was having a drink with his dad at the time. The witness said his dad took the armed man down with a pool stick before patrons tackled the offender.

He spoke of being shaken after the incident.

Nothing was taken in the attempted robbery.

Eastern Bay of Plenty area commander Inspector Sandra Venables said police firmly discouraged members of the public putting themselves at risk by tackling offenders.

 

"Particularly when they are armed," she said.

 

"But that doesn't take away from the fact that these patrons were incredibly courageous and they should be proud that they stood up for their community."

 

Meanwhile, two 23-year-old Whakatane men are due to appear at Whakatane District Court later today charged with assault with intent to rob.

- Katee Shanks of The Daily Post

 

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