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Bar patrons foil armed robbery attempt

Published: 10:19AM Thursday December 06, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Loyal patrons at a Whakatane pub foiled a robbery by overpowering two armed men who demanded cash from a female bartender.

Police said the ordeal began when a man went to the counter at the Kope Turf Bar and demanded cash from the staff member just before 10 last night.

Several patrons, who realised what was happening, intervened and grabbed the offender.

As he tried to get away, a second man walked into the bar carrying a firearm and patrons also wrestled him to the ground.

Both offenders suffered minor injuries along with one of the patrons during the struggle.

One of the men managed to escape but was arrested early this morning, while the other was arrested at the bar last night.

Police recovered the gun inside the bar.

Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander Inspector Sandra Venables said while the patrons actions should be commended, she did not recommend anyone tackling an armed offender.

"We would firmly discourage members of the public from putting themselves at risk by tackling offenders, particularly when they are armed, but that doesn't take away from the fact that these patrons were incredibly courageous and they should be proud that they stood up for their community."

Two 23-year-old Whakatane men will appear in court later today charged with assault with intent to rob.