Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Terror at Gunpoint

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Terror at Gunpoint

Article excerpt

Byline: Joanna Desira

Police today stepped up a major manhunt after an armed raid at a Teesside supermarket.

A security guard was held at gunpoint and forced to hand over a "substantial" amount of cash at Sainsbury's Whitehouse Farm store in Stockton.

The gun was also pointed at a group of frightened schoolgirls who witnessed the raid.

It is the second Teesside store to be targeted by armed robbers in recent months. In November raiders got away with a five figure sum from Tesco in Eaglescliffe. Detective Inspector Craig Hobbs, of Cleveland Police, said a link could not be ruled out.

The Sainsbury's raid happened at about 3.30pm yesterday as a Securitas van carrying two guards arrived at the store on Bishopton Road West.

Police said four men with their faces covered and armed with handguns held up one of the guards.

A spokesman for Securitas said: "The two drivers were obviously very shaken as this was a very unpleasant experience. But fortunately neither was injured."

A 15-year-old schoolgirl, from Roseworth, had stopped off at the store with five friends to buy sweets on her way home from the nearby Our Lady and St Bede's School.

"We heard lots of people screaming and then saw lots of people running," she said. "We walked to the front entrance and we saw a man through the doorway next to the cash machine.

"We walked in and there was a man holding a gun at the man standing next to us. The man turned around and pointed it at us.

"We ran out the way but one of my friends still stood there because she was in shock. I pulled her out of the way and we went back into the store.

"He was kicking silver boxes out of the way. There was money in and he was taking this out. Then we saw him drive off."

She said the man was wearing a luminous yellow workman-style coat. His face was covered by a scarf and he had a black hat on.

"I was shocked and upset. I didn't think it was real," she said.

A man living nearby, who did not want to be named, believes he saw the getaway car.

"I was checking the garage door with my back to Sainsbury's when I heard an engine screaming. …

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