Shop worker feared for life during gun ordeal

Zafar Iqbal owns the store in Niddrie that was robbed by a masked gunman. Picture: Neil Hanna
Zafar Iqbal owns the store in Niddrie that was robbed by a masked gunman. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A MASKED man left a shopworker fearing for her life as he held her at gunpoint during a lunchtime raid.

The woman – who is so upset that she does not want to be named – described how she threw around £1000 at the armed robber, hoping he would flee Niddrie Licensed Grocers.

The 42-year-old widow – who has been threatened with a knife on two previous occasions in the Niddrie Mill Drive shop – was shaking so much she could hardly open the till.

And she believes the gunman targeted the shop when she was working alone.

The mother-of-two and a female customer were left terrified by the incident, which happened just after 1pm yesterday.

She had been busy writing down details of the customer, who did not have enough money to pay for her goods, when the man burst in.

“I was writing down how much she owed when he came in, and I never noticed, then he shouted ‘open the till and give me the money’,” she said.

“His face was covered – I looked at his hand and he was holding a gun. I was totally panicked. I tried to open the till but I was totally blank, I was trying to press the button. I opened the till and he grabbed the money.”

The robber then demanded that the woman – who used to own the shop – open a drawer below the counter, which contains newspaper money. The panicked female customer – who was “screaming, crying and shouting” – also helped hand the cash over.

The shop assistant said: “I opened the drawer and threw it at him. One thing was on my mind – if he took all the money then he would leave the shop. At that time I thought he was going to shoot me.

“When I looked at the gun, I thought ‘is it real or is it a toy?’. I had never seen a gun in my life but I was sure it was real.”

She believes the man staked out the shop in order to find out about the drawer and which shifts she worked.

She sold the store to family friend Zafar Iqbal three years ago, after falling victim to 
several attempted robberies.

“I had two incidents in the past – 2007 and 2010. Both times a guy came with a knife.”

She only started working in the shop again earlier this year, to help out Mr Iqbal.

After yesterday’s incident, her 20-year-old son has told her not to go back to the store.

“Even my children are so scared now,” she added.

Mr Iqbal, who manages the shop, said he was shaken by the incident. He said: “I am very shocked – it is scary. He took about £1000 in total. The police got the CCTV from the outside and inside.”

The “gaunt” man fled the scene on foot, heading west on Niddrie Mill Drive, and is described as white, about 30 years old and between 5ft 10in and 6ft tall.

He was wearing a black hooded top, with a black scarf covering his mouth, black 
jogging trousers and white trainers. He was also carrying a black and white polythene bag.

Detective Sergeant Robbie Wallace said: “While the shopkeeper was not physically harmed, this was a very distressing experience for her.

“We are keen to trace the suspect as quickly as possible, and ask that anyone with 
information should contact police.

“We are particularly keen to trace three customers who left the shop moments before the incident and turned left on to Niddrie Mill Drive.”