Have-a-go hero gave chase after armed robber who held up Bath taxi office with gun
A grandfather-of-three has spoken about the moment he gave chase after an armed robber who had held up a Bath taxi office with a handgun.
Gary Beck, 47, was taken to hospital with chest pains after the incident at the V Cars offices, in Cheltenham Street, on Monday evening.
But he said he just acted in the spur of the moment when he threw a metal bin and then a fire extinguisher at the culprit, before running after him down Westmoreland Street and under the railway line.
Mr Beck, who is a dispatcher and has worked in the taxi industry for 22 years, first realised something was wrong at around 5.20pm when he heard a commotion coming from his boss Dave Scaramanga’s office.
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He said: “I didn’t see the person come up the stairs, but then I heard shouting and, through the glass window, I could see this guy standing over Dave and shouting.
“I ran into the office and that was when the guy pointed a gun in my face. I ducked for cover and told the girls to call 999.
“I knew I had to pick up a weapon, so I grabbed a metal bin and as the guy was going through the doorway I came up behind him and threw the bin at him.”
What Mr Beck did not realise at this point was that the attacker had punched Mr Scaramanga in the face when he initially refused to hand over any money, before threatening him with the gun and making off with £545 in cash.
As he ran down the stairs Mr Beck picked up a fire extinguisher and threw it after him, and when that missed, decided to give chase.
He said: “I didn’t think about it, I just wanted to catch him.
“He had a hat over his face and obviously couldn’t breathe properly, so he lifted it up, turned round at me, pointed the gun at me and laughed.
“I was so angry when he laughed at me that I just kept running after him.”
Mr Beck lost sight of the man on Westmoreland Station Road, so made his way back to the offices where the police had already arrived.
However, he suddenly developed chest pains and collapsed, so was rushed to hospital by paramedics, who eventually diagnosed him as suffering from a severe panic attack brought on from the stress of the incident.
He was discharged later that night and returned to work at around 10.20pm to complete a nightshift alone in the office.
Mr Beck, who lives in Moorfields, said his partner Debbie and their three children could not believe that he had put himself in such danger by chasing after the robber.
He said: “My eldest daughter asked me what the hell I was thinking, what was I going to do when I caught him and he had a gun?
“I don’t know, I just wasn’t thinking about that.”
A major police operation is now under way to find the robber, who is described as white, in his mid to late 20s, around 5ft 10ins tall and of a stocky build.
Officers say they are particularly keen to speak to a female jogger who was on Westmoreland Station Road at the time of the incident and would have seen the robber as he fled the scene.
He was dressed in black with a woollen hat pulled down over his face and a fleece top zipped up to his chin.
He had gloves on and was carrying a small rucksack-type bag with a long shoulder strap.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101.