Search on as armed robber evades the police

AN ARMED robber who held up staff with a gun at a Weston building society on Monday (July16) is still on the loose. Police were called to the Nationwide

AN ARMED robber who held up staff with a gun at a Weston building society on Monday (July16) is still on the loose. Police were called to the Nationwide in High Street just before 2pm after receiving reports of a man brandishing a black hand gun.The man, who escaped with some cash, was thought to have fled down Union Place and officers cordoned off the alley, along with High Street and part of Oxford Street, from Emmanuel Church to The Centre.Shopkeepers and customers were told to stay inside and lock the doors as police searched the back streets and roofs, before descending on the Town Crier in Walliscote Road after a member of staff reported that the offender had been in to use the toilet.Diane Ruane, from the pub, said: "One member of staff told the police she saw the man come in the pub, use the toilet and go out again at about 1.50pm."The police asked all the punters to drink up and leave. They searched the pub and my flat upstairs. They put officers on each of the three exits and there were about nine of them on the roof with big guns."At 2.30pm armed police then burst into North Somerset Council's Youth Offending Team building in Oxford Street, where they believed the man was hiding. Staff were evacuated and the building was searched.Nobody was found and a police helicopter was then brought in to continue the search from the skies.Chief inspector Julian Moss said: "We thought the man might have been in the Youth Offending Team building so we secured it and carried out a search."He (the robber) went through the back streets. No hostages were taken and nobody was injured in the incident. He's still at large and it is important that any member of the public who may know the identity of the suspect contacts us."We realise there was a lot of disruption to members of the community and businesses but it was critical that we protected the public and secured evidence to try to help us track the offender."Police dogs were sent into Union Place and crime scene investigators dusted the Nationwide for fingerprints.Traffic from the seafront was diverted down Union Street and scores of office workers and passers-by littered the streets to get a glimpse of the action.Builders working in the Friends' Meeting House in Oxford Street were told to lock the doors and stay inside.All roads except Union Place were re-opened just before 5pm. Nationwide refused to comment on the incident itself, but a spokesman said: "We are co-operating with the police. We will be talking to officers and taking their advice on any extra security measures which may need to be taken. Customers' money will not be affected by the incident."The robber was white, slim, about 6ft tall and aged between 25 and 35. He has short, cropped, dark hair, which is receding, a long, thin, pale face and prominent ears. He was wearing a baseball cap and a grey hooded top, which he took off straight after the robbery and left behind. He was also wearing white trainers and dark jeans.Police are now trawling through CCTV footage, talking to all bed and breakfast accommodation owners in the area in case he stayed in one and circulating appeals to local businesses, residents associations and Neighbourhood Watch groups. Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call the police on 0845 456 7000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, including other bank or building society staff who may have noticed someone loitering around their premises looking suspicious.

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