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AN ARMED robber stopped for a snack in the middle of a violent rampage across Brighton city centre.
In a string of daylight attacks the robber first tried to rob the post office in St James’s Street. When his attempts were thwarted he made his way across the city centre which was packed with Christmas shoppers and people on their way to work.
He walked into a newsagents in Dyke Road and pulled a gun on the elderly shop assistant demanding he hand over the contents of the till – a total of just £78.
As he turned to leave he paused and reached back across the counter for a Boost chocolate bar.
The man is then thought to have tried to attack two people in the street before being stopped by police and shopping centre security guards. He was found to be in possession of a hammer, lock knife and imitation firearm.
Medhat Ramsay, owner of Dyke Road News said his employee had been left terrified by the robbery.
He told The Argus: “It was an old guy working. The man came in pointed the gun at him and said give me all your money.
“He was pretty shaken up by it.
“I asked him why he didn’t press the panic button and he said he was too scared.
“He had a gun right in his face.”
Mr Ramsay said the man caught on the shop’s CCTV looked like he was in his 30s, white and had blonde hair beneath the hat and scarf covering his face.
“He left here and attacked two people in the street.
“I was on the phone calling 999 and before I was half way through the call the police were outside.”
Startled shoppers watched as armed officers swooped at the Clock Tower and made an arrest outside Waterstones.
One eyewitness said: “I saw a man tackled to the ground and he was taken away by police.
“People were saying he had a gun.
“People were pretty panicked.”
Businesses near both of the robbery locations said they were concerned by a rise in violent crime in the city centre.
Anne Hayes, of Bona Foodie, next door to the St James’s Street Post Office said: “I was here from 9am on my own and it is scary to think this kind of thing is happening at that time of day.
“There is too much crime going on round here.
“We quite often have people coming in and grabbing food and there is nothing you can do. If you look for the police you usually can’t see any.”
Jack Ebrahimi, owner of a mobile phone shop in the Imperial Arcade behind Dyke Road News said: “I think people think that the shops have lots of money at this time of year.”
Jane Everest, 32, from Woodingdean, was shopping with her two young children at the time of the arrest.
She said: “I just came out of Churchill Square and there were about six or seven police cars and cops with massive guns everywhere and they were shouting at the guy to get on the ground.”
“I’m glad the police got him so quickly but it does make you think what is a person prepared to do if they’ll commit robberies at 9am?”
A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: “Police have arrested a man on suspicion of robbery after a suspect robbed a newsagent and tried to rob a post office in Brighton on Wednesday morning.
“The suspect was detained in North Street by firearms officers at 10.20am after a report of an attempted robbery at the post office in St James’s Street at 9.05am and a robbery at 9.40am at Dyke Road News in Dyke Road.
“A man armed with a gun demanded money at both locations.
“He left empty handed after staff refused at the post office but stole cash from the till at the newsagents.
“An imitation firearm, a hammer and a lock knife were recovered at the scene of the arrest.
“A man is in custody.”
Source: The Argus