High street gun drama in Birstall

Issue 496

ARMED robbers stole more than £3,000 from a Birstall offlicence manager in a terrifying street attack on Tuesday.
The woman, 41, was walking from McColl’s on Leeds Road to bank the cash at Birstall Post Office when she was pounced on in Nelson Street.
Police have since arrested six people in connection with the robbery.
She was first approached at around 10.40am by a man carrying what is believed to have been a black handgun.  
The white suspect demanded her handbag, which contained the cash, and struck her over the head in an ensuing struggle.
She managed to break free and tried to seek refuge in the Major Nibbles sandwich shop, but before she could do so a second man joined the attack.
A brave shopworker from Set 2 DIY saw the robbery taking place and rushed to her aid, brandishing a broom handle at the second man.
But the assailant managed to get the handbag from the woman and escaped in a black Vauxhall Vectra driven by the first suspect.
He lost a shoe in High Street as he fled to the getaway car and then returned for it – causing several vehicles to swerve and stop.
The victim had blood streaming down her face from where she was hit, but she was not badly hurt and was back at work on Wednesday.
The getaway car had been parked outside Shapers hairdressers in the minutes before the armed robbery.
A witness, who did not want to be named, said: “It was absolutely terrifying.
“I called the police. I was petrified at seeing somebody with a gun.”  
A vehicle matching the Vectra’s description was spotted soon after near Fox’s Biscuits in Batley. Armed police swooped but the car had gone.
Officers then raced to nearby Preston Street at around 4pm following a tipoff that one of the suspects was holed up in a flat, but the lead proved false.
Nelson Street and the bottom of High Street were closed off by police for the rest of Tuesday, causing traffic chaos around the area.
The closure of Nelson Street also meant more lost trade for businesses hit by the recent installation of pedestrian crossings.
Carol Parkinson, of the Dry Cleaning Centre in Low Lane, said: “I don’t know why anyone would target Birstall.
“I don’t think there are many businesses here that do enough trade to make themselves a target for armed robbers.”
Angie Hanson, of The Pet Shop in Bond Street, said: “The traders had such a good week last week, what with the breast cancer event.
“The whole village centre looked wonderful, done up in pink. And we got some great publicity for it. Sadly, this has taken the gloss off.”
Nichola Bishop, of Bishop’s Bakery, added: “Birstall’s normally such a quiet place. An armed robbery here was all but unthinkable.”
On Thursday night officers arrested six people in connection the robbery.
Three men aged 24, 22 and 21, and a 20yearold woman are currently in
custody.
Two women aged 23 and 21 have also been arrested on suspicion of conspiracyto commit robbery, and have been bailed pending further enquiries.
Enquiries into the robbery continue, and any witnesses or anyone with
information is asked to contact 01924 431012 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The traffic chaos caused by the incident led to a threecar smash in which an eightyearold girl suffered head injuries on Bradford Road.
It happened at around 6pm on Tuesday and involved a black Mercedes, a blue Renault Megane and a blue Ford Focus.
The youngster was a passenger in one of the cars. She was rushed to hospital but her condition was not thought to be life threatening.
Traffic struggled to get in or out of Birstall due to Nelson Street’s closure and many roads were snarled during rush hour.

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