Brave Sheffield shop owner wrestles gun from armed robbers

Sajjad Ahmed Chaudhry.
Sajjad Ahmed Chaudhry.

A brave newsagent - who wrestled a gun from armed robbers during an attack on his shop - has written an open letter demanding the raiders are 'severely punished'.

Sajjad Ahmed Chaudhry found himself staring down the barrel of a gun when masked raiders burst into National News in Sharrow.

Sajjad Ahmed Chaudhry outside his shop.

Sajjad Ahmed Chaudhry outside his shop.

The brave father-of-two wrestled the pistol away from one of the men - and for his trouble was hit over the head with a cup and a piece of wood that required hospital treatment.

This was the fifth time robbers have attacked the store - but he stoically vowed to carry on serving the community he has been a part of for more than 20 years.

The 47-year-old became teary eyed as he praised customers for their messages of support describing them as his 'family'.

He expressed both his gratitude for the community and his disgust at the robbers in an emotional open letter published today in The Star.

Mr Chaudhry wrote: "I hope nobody goes through such a frightening and life-threatening experience.

"However, this will not deter me from my job or serving the community. They (the robbers) must be severely punished and face the consequences."

The raid happened on Sunday, January 14, at 6.30am while he was putting magazines and newspapers out on the shelves.

While he was in the throes of a struggle with the armed man, an accomplice stole £80 from the till and £4000 worth of cigarettes from behind the counter.

Both are described as wearing balaclavas and despite a police appeal for information they are still at large.

Describing the dramatic moment he had a gun pointed at him, Mr Chaudhry said: "He was shouting and swearing with the pistol but I grabbed the end of it and threw it behind me.

"He hit me over the head with a stick, smashed a cup over me that was on the floor and punched me a number of times. But this is my livelihood, and this is my community, so I had to do something."

He has been flooded with numerous phone calls from customers and relatives wishing him well and described them as "my real strength - they are my family."

He told how he felt no fear during the raid as it has happened "all too often."

The premises has been attacked five times since opening in 1997.

The first happened in 2000 when he wrestled a gun from a man holding up the store. He was nominated for the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Award in honour of his bravery.

About six years ago he made a citizens' arrest on a man he caught stealing from his shop who was later taken away by police.

Then in 2013 raiders tried to break in by attempting to force open the back door but left empty handed.

And in May 2016 he and a customer fought off and restrained a robber wielding a fire extinguisher.

Detective Constable Leigh Fontana said the incident has caused distress to the "victim and surrounding community" but vowed to "bring those responsible to justice."

Contact police on 101 quoting incident number 203 of January 14.

Sajjad Ahmed Chaudhry's letter

I want to say a huge thank you to the whole community including my family, friends, customers and colleagues who have supported me through this ordeal.They are my real strength.

I am also grateful to the police who responded and supported me in this harrowing experience. I hope nobody goes through such a frightening and life-threatening experience.

However, this will not deter me from my job or serving the community. I hope the perpetrators are apprehended and put in prison.

I feel the law is too lenient because if you look at statistics, offenders are often released from prison and re-offend.

This is at least the fifth time my shop has been raided and robbery has been committed, and the third time the culprits have been caught and handed over to police.

These days courts give light sentences which I feel are not appropriate. They must be severely punished and face the consequences.

In addition, I write a column for a national newspaper - Daily Ausaf - for which I cover local, national and global issues. I am also a radio presenter for Sheffield Live on the show Aap Ki Awaz where we hold debates about community issues.