Man tackles armed bandit

A 62-YEAR-old man foiled a Tweed Heads bank robbery yesterday by tackling a gunman to the ground.

The man stepped in when he saw another man, armed with a gun, trying to rob the Southern Cross Credit Union at Centro Tweed Shopping Centre.

The alleged offender, a 55-year-old Queensland man, entered the bank about 9.45am yesterday.

Police said he pulled out a pistol and demanded money from two female staff members, but his plan was foiled when another man tackled him to the ground.

Daniel King's manchester stall is located just outside the credit union and he witnessed the dramatic events unfold.

"The first thing I heard was the thud of the guy being tackled to the ground," Mr King said. "It looked like a fight. This man had tackled the robber to the ground."

Mr King said he called out to the men to stop fighting, not realising what was happening.

"He yelled out, 'He's got a gun! He's trying to rob the bank!' and then a couple of other people jumped in," he said.

"They got the gun out of his hand -- it sounded very plastic when it hit the floor -- and they sat on him until the police came."

Mr King, and shoppers Neville Wood and Arthur Upton, said the drama was like "something you see in the movies".

The credit union remained closed yesterday, roped off with police tape as curious shoppers gathered to look.

The weapon involved in the foiled robbery could be seen from outside the store.

A single $100 bill lay on the floor and plastic bags full%of coins remained on the teller's counter.

A man and a woman waiting outside the credit union yesterday said their daughter was one of the staff members involved in the hold-up.

"She is quite shaken," the man said. "She did have a gun shoved in her face."

Inspector Darren Steel of Tweed Heads police could not confirm whether the gun was real or a replica. "He produced what was believed to be a firearm and demanded money from the tellers," Insp Steel said.

The tellers, aged 19 and 49, were not physically harmed. Insp Steel said that while the robbery had been foiled, police did not encourage members of the public to intervene as the 62-year-old Queensland man had.

Police located a Ford Focus vehicle parked at the shopping centre which had allegedly been stolen in Queensland two weeks earlier. Insp Steel said the alleged offender was refused bail and is due to appear in Lismore Court today charged with robbery while armed, two counts of assault, one count of possession of property stolen outside NSW and illegal use of a motor vehicle.

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