Willian shopkeeper on armed robbery: ‘He pointed a gun at me and told me to empty the till’
- Credit: Archant
A village shopkeeper has spoken after the “frightening” moment he decided not to hand over money to an armed robber despite being threatened at gunpoint.
Retired policeman Robert Middleton, who runs Willian Stores in Willian Road, was sitting behind the shop counter at 4pm on Friday when a man wearing a balaclava walked into his shop, pointed a gun at him and told him to empty the till.
Mr Middleton refused and the offender left empty-handed after Mr Middleton’s wife, Sue, rang the emergency alarm.
Speaking to the Comet, he said: “This guy came into the shop, pointed a gun at me and told me to empty the till.
“At the time my wife was in the office and we were talking on the intercom. I told her ‘there’s a bloke in here trying to rob us’. At first she thought I was joking but when she realised she pressed the emergency button. When the alarm went off he just turned around and ran.
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“It was frightening so I just tried to keep calm and not get too excited but I was determined he wasn’t going to get my money.
“I feel really angry about what’s happened. I would have been more concerned if it was my wife who was in my position and not me because who knows what he would have done.
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“I don’t know if it was a real gun – it looked pretty real to me – and whether he would have really used it. There were armed police everywhere afterwards.”
The couple moved to the village, located just outside Letchworth GC, three-and-a-half years ago having previously lived in Wales, where Mr Middleton worked for 25 years as a policeman.
They made the move to set up the shop, which has just undergone a refurbishment and includes a cafe and post office. Leah Martin, 19, who is a barmaid at the nearby The Fox at Willian, said: “I was working and didn’t really hear anything until I saw all the police cars outside. The police were stoping cars and looking everywhere.”
The suspect is described by police as white, of slim build, around 5ft 8 inches tall, in his late teens or early 20s. He was wearing a dark tracksuit and a black balaclava at the time.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.