An elderly Hastings dairy worker who fended off a gunman trying to rob her with a baseball bat says the local Camberley community is keeping her safe.
Police were called to the attempted armed theft at Kiwi Street Foodmarket on Kiwi St, Camberley, about 11.29am on Thursday.
Co-owner Daksha Patel warded off the would-be-robber after the stocky armed man entered the store wearing all black with his face covered, demanding money.
After placing a bag on the counter and telling the lone store worker to fill it with cash and cigarettes, he revealed a large gun from under a towel.
The 67-year-old said the offender nudged some jars of lollies onto the floor in frustration after Patel’s lack of response at having the gun pointed at her.
“He threw the bag on the counter at said ‘give me the money’, but I didn’t do anything,” she said.
“When I saw the gun I was definitely scared, but I knew I couldn’t leave or get out from behind the counter.
“I wouldn’t have been able to get past him as he was almost double my size.”
Patel, originally from India, said her first instinct was to grab the phone, but after the armed man came behind the counter, she was left with only one choice.
“I grabbed the bat and he still tried to get the money and then banged our fridge in anger,” she said.
“We’ve had no trouble in 17 years here, and I’d never had to use the bat before, but I instinctively lifted the stick at him and he ran away.”
Patel said she was relieved when the man fled down Kiwi St away from her family business.
She said the local community, no matter their affiliation, make the store feel safe.
“We do feel safe here, even with this happening,” she said. “The locals, even the Mongrel Mob, are part of the community. We feel safe with them.”
At least two schools in the vicinity, as well as Hawke’s Bay Hospital, were put into a precautionary lockdown as the armed man fled the scene.
Spokespeople from Heretaunga Intermediate and Camberley schools confirmed students and staff had been put into lockdown.
A Hawke’s Bay District Health Board spokeswoman said Hawke’s Bay Hospital was also put into lockdown for 15 minutes as a “precautionary measure” during the incident.
Police conducted area searches in the area in an attempt to locate the person involved in the incident, but are yet to make an arrest.
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