Bar patrons overpower armed robbers

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 10:19 06/12/2012
ARMED ROBBERS: Police said the ordeal began when a man went to the counter at the Kope Turf Bar and demanded cash from the staff member just before 10pm.
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ARMED ROBBERS: Police said the ordeal began when a man went to the counter at the Kope Turf Bar and demanded cash from the staff member just before 10pm.

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The owner of a pub where the patrons wrestled a pair of armed intruders to the ground has praised the actions of the punters, saying "they were having none of that".

Police said the ordeal began when a man went to the counter at the Kope Turf Bar and demanded cash from the staff member just before 10 last night.

Several patrons, who realised what was happening, intervened and grabbed the offender.

As he tried to get away, a second man walked into the bar carrying a firearm and patrons also wrestled him to the ground.

Both offenders suffered minor injuries along with one of the patrons during the struggle.

Bar owner Allan Unsworth said two staff members were on at the time, and while both were "a bit shaken", they were doing alright.

"One of them had been there when we had an earlier break in [about a year ago], so she's a bit of a veteran you might say.

"But when the patrons saw one of the girls getting manhandled by this guy, they weren't going to stand for it," he said.

"They rushed at them [both offenders] and wrestled them and gave them a bit of a tune up, which was good. This is definitely their bar and they were having none of that."

Unsworth said he "didn't know what they hell they were thinking" trying to rob the bar while they were having a pool night.

There were at least 60 patrons in the bar playing pool at the time. 

One of the men managed to escape the patrons' clutches but was arrested early this morning, while the other was arrested at the bar last night.

Police recovered the gun inside the bar.

Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander Inspector Sandra Venables said while the patrons actions should be commended, she did not recommend anyone tackling an armed offender.

"We would firmly discourage members of the public from putting themselves at risk by tackling offenders, particularly when they are armed, 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."

Two 23-year-old Whakatane men will appear in court later today charged with assault with intent to rob.

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