Archive - Thursday, 15 February 2001
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Shop owner relives gun raid terror
A SHOP owner today revealed how he stared death in the face as a gunman shot at him and a work colleague wrestled with a machete wielding attacker during an armed robbery.
The incident happened as two masked thugs burst into the premises of Alfa Computers on Chorley Old Road, on Tuesday night.
As one shop assistant used a fire extinguisher to ward off blows from the machete, the gunman, wielding a 9mm handgun, fired one shot.
The gun blast came just seconds after the armed raider's accomplice yelled: "Shoot him in the leg."
Today the owner of the shop Mr Hassan Rafie, who set up the computer shop four years ago, relived the violent raid which happened as workers prepared to shut up shop at 6pm.
The 34-year-old businessman ran from a back room in the store, armed with a piece of wood, after hearing the raiders burst in to the premises.
He said: " At first I thought it was just kids messing about, trying to pinch £10 but when I spotted the gun I lowered the piece of wood. There was nothing I could do about it.
"I was just concerned about everybody's safety in the shop. I felt responsible for making sure they were not injured.
"I was in the line of fire when he shot the gun. I didn't think about myself, I was just worried about my friends."
Seconds after the shot was fired the balaclava-clad pair fled empty handed and Mr Rafie used a special panic button to alert the police.
Firearms experts later confirmed a blank cartridge had been fired. No one was injured.
Ironically, the raid came just an hour before a newly installed CCTV system was set to become operational at the computer equipment store.
Finishing touches were being made to the security system, which is now up and running and features videotape surveillance to help prevent future attacks.
Today detectives confirmed they were still hunting for the gang who it is thought used a red Rover car, registration L728LAU, to escape.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Astley Bridge CID on 0161 856 5740 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.