(SKY NEWS) – A gang of armed robbers who attempted to raid a bookies were forced to leave empty-handed after being fought off by an 83-year-old “hero” customer.
Denis O’Connor stepped in when the balaclava and hoodie-clad raiders – two carrying hammers and the other brandishing what appears in CCTV footage to be a shotgun – burst in to Bar One Racing in Glanmire, County Cork, Ireland, at about 6.30pm on Saturday.
The pair with hammers climbed over the desk to confront shop manager Tim Murphy, while the apparent gunman pointed his weapon at the handful of gamblers in the shop at the time.
But Mr O’Connor, a retired mechanic-fitter from Glanmire, ignored the weapon and calmly walked behind the desk to help Mr Murphy.
“You can either run and hide or take a stand and I took a stand. The two with the hammers had jumped in and were threatening Tim, the manager, and I decided to go and help him,” the great-grandfather told the Irish Sun.
Mr O’Connor said he thought the raid was a stunt to begin with, before charging in without considering the potential danger.
“At first I thought it was a joke, a gimmick, but I quickly realised it was serious.
“Tim the manager is a very nice young man and I just couldn’t not help him. I ignored the fellow with the gun and I went behind the counter. I just didn’t think about what I was doing.
“Sometimes you can just sit down and do nothing or you can stand up to people like these and that’s what I did.”
Mr O’Connor grappled with one of the gang and eventually pulled the would-be thief out from behind the counter and into the shop.
He then fled, closely followed by the second man.
Mr Murphy gradually got the better of the third assailant, who also ran out of the premises – helped on his way by a kick from Mr O’Connor.
“It all happened so fast, but I think I hit one of the men and tackled him. Despite my age I managed to get the better of him,” Mr O’Connor said.
“One of them tripped and fell as he was leaving and I gave him a kick up the backside. That really felt good. All three of them ran off.
“When I told my wife what happened, she didn’t really understand what I did until she saw the video. I don’t think she was too pleased but she was proud of what I did.”
Mr Murphy said Mr O’Connor’s actions were “unbelievable”.
“He was very brave to help me like he did. He is a true hero.”
Police are investigating and appealing for witnesses to contact them.