Robber kills himself after gun battle with police

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The Independent Online
AN ARMED robber died and a policeman was shot in both legs during a 30-minute running gun battle in a crowded London street yesterday.

The dead man was one of two who had been involved in an armed raid on a jewellery store in Putney High Street. A high speed car chase followed the failed raid. A police vehicle was hijacked, and a passing businessman taken hostage, and a seige was only narrowly avoided. Police last night said one of robbers, surrounded by armed police in a residential area, killed himself with his 12-bore shotgun.

The policeman who was shot will this morning be recovering from surgery to remove shotgun pellets from both his legs. His condition was satisfactory. The man taken hostage was not hurt.

Two other officers suffered minor wounds from flying glass when shots were fired at their vehicle, shattering the windscreen.

The drama began when the JJ jewellery shop in Putney was held up by two men, both in their mid-40s, shortly before 5pm. They took rings and jewellery. According to staff at a nearby hamburger restaurant, a shot was heard coming from inside the jewellery shop.

As the robbers left they were confronted by two unarmed officers driving a police van.

The robbers forced the two policemen out of the van, ordering them to lie face down in the street. As the robbers sped off in their own getaway car, the police officers returned to their van and chased them. Shoppers hid in doorways as gun shots were fired at the chasing police car, shattering its windscreen.

Minutes later the getaway car crashed into a wall. The raiders jumped out. One of them, holding a handgun, hijacked another police car containing two officers. The other robber made off on foot towards Putney Bridge.

Police teams from an armed response unit and territorial support group pursued both men. The hijacked police vehicle crashed before it reached Putney Bridge, which links Putney and Fulham across the Thames.

One of the two raiders was arrested. But the other robber grabbed a passing businessman and used him as a human shield as he crossed a footbridge near Putney Bridge railway station, on the north side of the river. As armed police took position on the far side of the bridge, the robber fired shots at them.

The hostage, crouching near the gunman, was uninjured in the shoot-out which followed.

Commander Roy Ramm, head of Scotland Yard's serious crimes division, said the robber and his hostage arrived in Hurlingham Gardens, 'where we understand that he tried to bluff or force his way into a house'. The house belonged to two elderly sisters who, according to neighbours, refused to let the gunman in despite his shouts that he was a police officer.

'He was still firing at pursuing officers and hit one of the officers, who went down in Ranelagh Gardens,' said Commander Ramm. The robber was then hit in the leg but continued to shoot at police as he went into the garden of a house in Hurlingham Gardens. 'We heard a number of shots and then it went quiet,' said Commander Ramm. 'It would appear the robber shot himself.'

The Police Complaints Authority said it would be holding an investigation.

(Photograph omitted)