Detective shot during chase after van robbery: Automatic weapon fired at surveillance team. Terry Kirby reports

A FLYING SQUAD detective was recovering in hospital with a head wound last night after a suspected armed robber fired a machine pistol at police during a high-speed chase.

The use of an automatic weapon is likely to increase alarm among senior police officers at the spread of firearms; although semi-automatic and automatic weapons have been seized, yesterday's incident is believed to have been the first in which one has been fired at officers.

Last night, four people - three men and a woman - were being questioned by Scotland Yard detectives about the robbery and shooting in south-east London yesterday morning. The Flying Squad officer, Detective Sergeant Michael Stubbs, 43, is expected to make a full recovery.

According to Scotland Yard, the incident began when two men robbed a Security Express van outside a branch of Barclays Bank in Sidcup, Kent, stealing an estimated pounds 20,000. As the two men sped off in a stolen Vauxhall Astra, they were pursued by Flying Squad officers who were keeping the robbers under surveillance.

A short distance away, the robbers stopped a Ford Capri and forced the female driver out at gunpoint; she was shocked but unharmed. Still pursued by police at high speed, one of the robbers leaned out of the window of the Capri and fired a burst from the machine pistol at the police car, which was hit many times.

The car stopped so that the police could help their injured colleague; the other three occupants of the car were also struck by flying glass. Although the police officers were armed, they did not return fire.

Denise Freshwater, 26, a hairdresser working nearby, said: 'The man was hanging right out of the car window and firing a machine gun along the street. He wasn't aiming at one particular thing, he was just firing everywhere. Anyone on the street could have been hit. I couldn't believe it. There was this man just shooting all over the place.'

Although some witnesses maintained that the shots were fired from the Astra, Scotland Yard said that they had been fired from the Capri.

The Yard said that a short distance away from where the shots were fired, the robbers abandoned their vehicle and fired another series of shots at two uniformed unarmed officers who approached them. They escaped on foot; the officers were uninjured.

A short while later, police surrounded a house in the Greenwich area of south-east London and two men were arrested. The machine pistol, two other firearms, ammunition and the stolen cash were recovered. Two more people, a man and a woman, were arrested at another address in the area during the afternoon. All were being questioned last night.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all