Let me set the scene told to me by an officer and a door man twenty minutes after the situation was "under control", before I get to my personal account of the event.
At around 4.30 pm on Thursday last, a taxi pulls up to the jewellers Graff, four men wearing clean cut suits and brandishing class and wealth step out of a taxi that had pulled up out side the door, getting out they headed towards the door of the jewellers, I might add that to get into Graff you have to pass through an air-locked entrance consisting of two sliding doors that are operated by a security guard, because of their appearance they gain unnoticed entry into the jewellers. Once all four of them have entered, they brandish in turn, a shotgun, a large matt black sledgehammer, two grenades and a hand gun. Immediately shop staff and customers are made aware of the presence of the four bandits, instructing staff to relinquish diamonds and jewels of worth one cannot consider. Content with the collection, they take a young female shop assistant at gun point with them as hostage, as a means of exiting the air-locked door.
Doors opening onto Old Bond St a navy blue BMW pulls up with seamless timing, forcing their hostage into the vehicle they glimpse a patrol car racing towards them, alerted by a member of staff inside Graff through the panic alarm button. A shot is fired towards the approaching patrol car, piercing through the quiet decadent street. racing down the street taking a left onto Stafford St and over Albermarle St they collide with a taxi, ramming its side attempting to create an obstruction for the pursuing police. Continuing down Stafford St and taking a left onto Dover St, heading towards your narrator.
The shop that I work in has three windows arching onto the street allowing for a panning vision of life unfolding outside our premise. Standing against the window, reflecting on what was still to be done that day, I heard a sound similar to the pop exhausted from a Ribena carton once flattened by a car tyre, then with unnatural rhythm the sound was heard again, peering out of the window I noticed a police car had pulled up to the junction of the two streets and was stationary. Nearer to the shop I saw a man running from a nattered and beaten bike parked outside of William Hill, as he ran two customers outside of a restaurant opposite us fled their outside table and flushed through the door of their cuisine providers.
Looking back towards the bike, I considered that the panic induced was from fear that the motorbike was backfiring and would promptly explode. Beginning to consider the radius of impact from an explosion twenty metres away, out of instinct I ducked my body behind the windowsill, whilst keeping my head and hands propped up against the pane of glass, confident that my reflexes would allow my head to follow my body into possible useless protection. My vision still at street level watching the bike, my eyes suddenly registered a figure in a blue shirt and suit trousers running directly towards our shop, eventually noticing that in his right hand grip was what appeared to be a black hand gun. Realising that the spread of the bike possibly exploding might not have been my only concern. My manager of the shop instructed everyone to make immediate direction towards the basement, half way down the stairs I began to reconsider the importance of witnessing a scene of considerable cinematic quality, running with my back bent over into a crouch I made it back to the window to see an empty street, seconds passed before the peace was torn from any bewildered and petrified pedestrians, shop assistants and still digesting diners, three red route patrol cars flew past the window, silent sirens, empty lights, uninterested in counselling those traumatised by what they had witnessed. A solitary police car housing two sheet white frightened officers hummed outside our window, eventually getting out of their car, they struggled to the boot removing a bullet proof vest each. Protected from any stray bullets that might head their way they stood at the hood of the car peering at the two holes pierced with bullets.
Just as the events had stolen all sound from the street, its departure soon caused flurries of shouting, screaming and other emotional outlets, bombarding the deserted officers with more public interaction than a patrol would possibly encounter and just as the voices grew louder with the confidence of safety a roar was heard from down the street, two huge police vans with "S.W.A.T." applied to their exteriors, approached spilling Special Officers clad in black, concealed by balaclavas and wielding large automatic rifles or machine guns, occupied the street with undeniable efficiency. Confused by the necessity for such heavy response to a crisis that would without doubt travelled considerable distance from the scene. I realised that the blue BMW that they had driven was parked and abandoned outside our shop behind a black van, as the four bandits had jumped into another waiting getaway vehicle. shotguns, sledgehammers and apparent evidence were left in the car, though the Special Officers initial duty was to assume that the car may have been rigged, again we were fleeing to the basement. Sitting under a table I realised that it was quite unlikely I would survive the devastation a car bomb would created behind a lump of oak wood. I crept upstairs to be met by officers patrolling the streets in waves. I sat at the shop counter near the window and watched as they blue taped and then red taped the street off. Being inside a crime scene with no means of escape I stood in the door way and spoke to a girl from next door about what had ensued, comparing accounts.
At this point I must congratulate and thank those involved with the days events for developing a quiet day into one of my best.
For those who got away,
I salute you.
I have yet to be asked to give my account by any law enforcer, so I thought that VT readers might appreciate the account.
I do not hold responsibility for the accounts told to me, I saw the events on Dover St.