By JUNIOR UKAHA
THREE members of a gang were shot dead by Lae police yesterday following an armed robbery of a Chinese shop in Lae’s downtown commercial area.
Killed were members of a gang of five who stormed the shop and held up its Chinese manager and security guards and made off with an unknown amount of money.
Lae Metropolitan Superintendent Anthony Wagambie said the gang fired shots and injured one of the Chinese owners and a security guard.
Wagambie said a police traffic unit nearby heard the gunshots and responded.
He said police chased the gang and cornered them at Sipaia village where three members were shot dead.
“About five armed men held up an Asian shop owner at downtown, Lae,” Wagambie said.
“While the robbery was in progress, a police traffic unit was nearby and was alerted by gunshots.
“On realising the robbery, the unit responded quickly to the scene where they came across the suspects escaping in a sedan.
“Other police units were alerted and quickly blocked off escape routes.”
Wagambie said police pursued the gang towards the China Town area but they fired at police, damaging the windscreen of a police vehicle.
He said another shot was fired at the same pursuing police vehicle which hit the top of the vehicle.
“Police could not return fire immediately because of the large number of people walking on the road,” Wagambie said.
“The police vehicle shot at had one of the members on board and sustained pellet wounds in his left arm.”
Wagambie said the chase started at downtown through to Airways Avenue, China Town, Bumbu Bridge, and ended up at Busurum Compound.
He said the suspects were cornered off and they abandoned their vehicle at Busurum Compound and made off on foot.
“A lone police officer who sighted them at the back of Malahang Technical College was fired upon and engaged in a shootout with four suspects,” Wagambie said.
“Police reinforcements managed to reach the member and went in further.
“Police returned fire, killing three armed men at the scene.
“One of the suspects was wounded on the left leg.
“Two factory-made shotguns, a homemade gun and ammunition were retrieved.”
Wagambie said police believed there was also a high-powered rifle used, judging from the impact of the damage on the police vehicle.
“I am warning criminal gangs in Lae that they must not try such daring robberies,” Wagambie said.
“The criminals were very daring to shoot at police, not only on one instance but more than seven encounters while on pursuit and on foot.
“I could have lost a couple of good policemen today, but thank God for his protection.”
Police are investigating the robbery.
By JUNIOR UKAHA