Gun fired in store as brave jeweller fights off raiders
Published 15/04/2011 | 05:00
A garda van parked outside Tadgh O'Flynn Jewellers in Nenagh, Co Tipperary yesterday. Brian Arthur /Press22
A BRAVE jeweller fought off two armed raiders, forcing them to flee his family business empty-handed yesterday.
Tadgh O'Flynn Jnr (29) last night told how he wrestled with the two robbers who tried to steal jewellery including diamond rings from his father's business in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.
During the struggle, in front of two frightened customers, a gunshot was discharged into a wall at the Mitchel Street jewellers. The drama in the north Tipperary town unfolded yesterday morning at 11.15am.
"I was downstairs with two customers. An assistant was upstairs working when they came in. It all happened so fast -- it was all over within a minute or so," said the goldsmith.
"There were two of them. They had their faces covered with balaclavas and hoods pulled up so you couldn't see who they were.
"When they came in, they went straight around the counter for the diamond rings. They knew what they were going after all right -- they had their homework done," Mr O'Flynn said.
"I grabbed one of them when he came around the counter -- it was just an instinctive reaction.
"One of them had a gun, but I thought it was a fake. A shot went off into the wall -- just the one. Luckily, no one was hit," he said.
"The guards are working here since and they (the raiders) have been caught. Nothing like this has happened here before."
After fleeing from the jewellers empty-handed to a waiting stolen car with a getaway driver, the culprits attempted to escape from chasing gardai through a network of rural roads across north Tipperary.
The high-speed chase went on for 20 miles and the garda helicopter was deployed to assist armed officers on the ground.
However, the helicopter had to abandon the pursuit and land at Erinagh airfield, Capparoe, Co Tipperary, because of poor weather conditions.
Several unsuccessful attempts were made to halt the raiders before the culprits were eventually arrested at Curraghduff, Upperchurch, Co Tipperary, on the Newport to Thurles road.
It is understood all three raiders -- aged in their 30s -- are from Limerick city and that the stolen vehicle had been hidden in the Newport area in the days before yesterday's raid.
One man was being held at Thurles garda station while the other two were being questioned at Nenagh.
Investigations are continuing.