A COURAGEOUS shopowner foiled an armed raid in his Radcliffe store after confronting a masked robber who pointed a gun at his face.
Costcutter in Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe, was targeted on Sunday at 9.40pm by two robbers in a botched attempt to steal money from the till.
One of them – who was wearing a Halloween skeleton mask – brandished a silver handgun in the face of owner Dee Kuvarji, proprietor of the shop for 22 years. After Mr Kuvarji confronted one of the robbers and pushed the gun away from his face the pair fled empty-handed towards St Andrew’s Road.
Both men were described as white, with the gun-wielding robber about 5ft 6in tall, of medium build and wearing a black hooded coat with the hood up.
The other man was about 5ft tall, of a large build and was wearing a scarf over his mouth.
A male customer and Mr Kuvarji’s wife, who also works in Costcutter, were in the store but hid during the incident.
Mr Kuvarji said: “I am in shock. I feel like I do not even know where I am.
“When I got to the shop the next morning to unlock the door I wanted to turn around and walk away.
“Anything could have happened to me – they were armed with a gun.
“When the gun was in my face I didn’t even think about it, I pushed it away and the man ran off as soon as I did that.
“They both realised I wasn’t a pushover and it frightened them because they could see I was not scared.”
When the would-be robbers first entered the shop Mr Kuvarji thought they were friends playing a prank on him because of the Halloween mask one was wearing.
After the first robber pulled out a gun Mr Kuvarji made several steps towards the shop’s panic button but at this point the man came closer and held the gun in his face.
Mr Kuvarji then got hold of the gun and pushed it away from his face – throwing the lottery machine on the till at the men as they left the premises.
He added: “At first I thought it was a customer or a friend playing a prank. I thought he was going to take off the mask and say it was a joke but then he pulled out a gun.
“I have been left very shaken up and will be especially uncomfortable when working during night time.
“I have owned this store for 22 years and I have never experienced anything like this before. That is what makes it even more shocking.
“Maybe if it was another member of staff it would have been a different story – but because it is my own store the fight came into me.
“I hope these men have told their friends robbers cannot come in here and get away with it – I am not scared of them.”
Detective Sergeant Alison Byrne said: "While nothing was taken, it was a frightening experience that has left the shop workers understandably shaken.
"We would ask anyone with information about who may be responsible or who remembers seeing the two men in the area to contact police."
A similar robbery was carried out at a Ramsbottom off-licence earlier the same night, at 7.20pm, and police believe they could be linked.
A member of staff at Bargain Booze in Bolton Road West was hit over the head with a handgun when two masked men threatened staff and demanded money from the till.
One of the men was wearing a white ‘V for Vendetta’ mask.
Police are appealing for witnesses to both incidents and anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 8181 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.