AN Ennis businessman has spoken of his “terrifying ordeal” after he was subjected to an alleged armed robbery on Wednesday afternoon, the third break-in in 12 years.
Stephen Coote said a man wearing a Hallowe’en mask and dark clothing entered his shop on the Kilrush Road and held a “small black gun” up to his face.
Coote’s shop is a well-known landmark in the town and is a stop-off point for people travelling to West Clare.
Mr Coote’s mother, Mary, was also working in the shop at the time, when the suspect demanded money on Wednesday. He said Mary has been present for a number of break-ins, including a very serious incident, when she was left with a broken arm after a vicious assault.
“He walked me halfway up the shop and started shouting at Mam, who said that she couldn’t open the till. He held the gun up to my face. I pressed the panic button as I was walking towards the till.
“He kept demanding notes. I opened the till and started with the small notes,” he said.
After taking the cash, the father-of-four said the suspect was looking for a second till or safe but was told there wasn’t any more money.
The suspect told Mr Coote and his mother to stay in the shop and walked out of the premises, shut the door and proceeded to run in the direction of Éire Óg GAA Clubhouse.
Mr Coote said the suspect took off his mask outside Tony Brohan’s house, when he started running after him.
“He [suspect] was running away and I was running after him. There were loads of cars on the road at the time and I was trying to wave them down.
“I was trying to catch up with him. When I got as far as the Rocky Road, I met a man who said he had seen another man with a brown bag. I said, ‘He had the money from the shop till’.
“I regret I didn’t try to do more to stop it [robbery]. We work hard to try and earn a few euro as a small business owner and then this happens,” he said.
He has appealed to anyone who was passing the Kilrush Road or Clonroadbeg at around 4pm, who may have seen two men running in the direction of the Rocky Road, to contact gardaí with any information that would assist their investigation.
“Someone must have seen two men running in the direction of the Rocky Road. I would really appreciate if someone could come forward and assist with the identification of the suspect.
“Ennis gardaí are very interested in finding the mask that was used by this man during the robbery,” he said.
Mr Coote said gardaí were on the scene quickly and they went up the Rocky Road to try and locate the suspect, while one member visited the shop. A member of the Garda Forensics Team also visited the shop, to conduct a detailed examination.
Ennis gardaí have confirmed that their investigations are continuing into this incident.
A Garda spokesman told The Clare Champion that they carried out an extensive search of the area after the incident, in association with members of Clare Civil Defence.
He appealed to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the vicinity of Coote’s shop, to contact Ennis Garda Station at 065 6848100.