Shopkeeper tells of his 30 minute struggle with axe-wielding robber

A shopkeeper who wrestled an axe-wielding robber wearing a porkpie hat has told of his 30 minute struggle. 

Tony Norris has been running Harvey’s Pet Store in Ventnor High Street for a decade, and has always joked with his two sisters who work in post offices that he’s the only one in the family who hasn’t been a victim of armed robbery.

But on a quiet Thursday afternoon (October 4) on the Isle of Wight, Mr Norris joined his sibling’s exclusive club.

The 69-year-old said: “A bloke came into to my shop at 3.50pm and came up to the counter. Luckily my wife had just gone to the toilet, otherwise she would have been at the counter. So I went to the counter and he said to me, ‘I want the money out the till’.

Tony Norris struggled with an axe-wielding man for 30 minutes – photo by Joe Burn

“With that he pulled an axe out from under his jacket and held it up in the air threatening me. I just looked at him and I’m thinking, ‘how am I going to disarm him?’.

“I said, ‘how much do you want?’ this put him off guard. I put my hand toward the till drawer with no intention of opening it, but as I did that he leant forward as if he was going to grab the money once I had opened it. As he did that, the axe came within grabbing reach of me.

“And that’s what I did. I grabbed the axe. He grabbed it with both hands. I had it with both hands. He’s pulling, I’m pulling. When I got to the end of the counter, he pulled and I pushed – which put him on his arse.

“It took me 20 minutes to get the axe actually out of his hand. I was laid on him and my friend Pete was there, I said to him ‘jump on his legs’. So now he’s got 16 stone sat on his legs. I’m laid across his chest and his legs, I’ve got hold of the axe, he’s still got hold of the axe.

“We were waiting for the police, they took 30 minutes to get there.

“I was holding his wrist that tight that his hand went blue, so he had to let go and I threw it across the shop floor. Then the coppers come and cuffed him and took him away.”

Mr Norris’ wife was on the phone to police throughout the shop-floor showdown and was informed that one police car broke down in Wroxall whilst rushing to the scene, thankfully no one was injured.

Mr Norris claims the police took their time to park when they arrived, with one officer leaving the vehicle to guide the driver into a tight spot.

“For attempted armed robbery they should have just abandoned the car outside the shop and come in. I did let my feelings be known when they walked through the door,” said Mr Norris.

The man in his 30s had allegedly tried to rob the Premier store and Post Office before brandishing the axe in the nearby pet store.

A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said: “While en route to the incident, a police vehicle sustained a punctured tyre and had to stop responding at 3.49pm.

“However, eight minutes later the man was detained at the scene by police when other units attended.

“A man was arrested a short time later on suspicion of attempted robbery.”