Gunman dies after public stop Plymouth bookmaker robbery
A masked gunman has died after being pinned down and restrained by customers during an armed robbery at a bookmakers in Plymouth.
The man, in his 50s, entered the Ladbrokes branch in Crownhill Road at 18:45 GMT on Friday wearing a gas mask and holding a pistol.
Police arrested the man, who was already unconscious, but he died a short time later at the scene.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating.
The man has been identified but next of kin have not yet been informed, a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said.
The spokesman said when the man entered the shop, he was "immediately tackled" by customers and "held down still wearing his gas mask".
Ch Insp Ian Drummond-Smith said: "Customers and staff tackled the man, overpowered him, disarmed him and restrained him and when police officers arrived they found him being restrained but noted that he was unresponsive and wasn't breathing."
He said the police and ambulance service attempted to resuscitate him but he was declared dead about 20 minutes later at the scene.
Ch Insp Drummond-Smith added: "We have recovered a firearm of sorts, it hasn't been fully examined yet so I'm unable to confirm whether it's a replica or a genuine firearm.
"This is a very serious incident. We cannot speculate on what has actually taken place here today."
A spokeswoman for the IPCC said it had "received a referral from Devon and Cornwall Police following the death of a man in Plymouth".
It added: "A full assessment of the circumstances will now take place and a decision on the level of IPCC involvement will be made in due course."
A spokesman for Ladbrokes said the company was assisting police.
David Walker, 55, from West Park, Plymouth, said he walked into the bookmakers about five minutes after the incident.
He said: "When I went in there, they were scuffling on the floor, I just thought it was just a fight or something.
"There were the two men, customers I think, on top of him, and the bloke on the floor.
"I didn't see their faces, as they were holding the guy down at the back of the shop. I couldn't see any mask and there wasn't any physical movement, they were just holding him."
Ivor Green, 67, also from West Park, said he was not surprised that customers had tried to defend the staff.
He said: "The staff become your friends, it's a little family, and it's no different to a member of your family being threatened. He shouldn't have been doing that in the first place."
David Marfleet said: "As I drove past you could see that Ladbrokes was absolutely full of policemen at that time.
"[There were] easily 10 police cars and then two riot vans and then the ambulance that turned up on site as well.
"We don't normally have any trouble around here, it's quite a surprise it being such a nice quiet area."