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Irish shopkeeper (72) is local hero in Bermuda after chasing armed robber off with an axe

‘So that’s when I decided, ‘I'm gonna have a go here’

Michael at his shop in Bermuda with the axe

Neil FethertonhaughSunday World

An 72-year-old Irishman who has become a local hero after chasing an armed robber from his hardware shop in Bermuda with an axe has said he would do it again if he had to.

Michael Forde, who grew up in Ballina Co Mayo but is originally from Lahardane, told how he faced down the intruder who had entered his Bargain Hunters store that he runs with his wife on Somerset Road in the town of Sandys.

The unknown male, who had clothing covering his face, entered the store just after 2pm on December 31.

A police report said he had a concealed weapon that appeared to be intended to resemble a firearm.

“We’ve had this store here in Bermuda for about five years,” Michael told Sunday World.

“Because we’re in off the main road it had occurred to me before that there was always the possibility that we might get robbed.

“You can never prepare for it but in my mind I thought that if it ever does happen, I'm gonna try and keep calm, I'm gonna go to the cash register, lock it, take the keys out and thrown them behind some shelving and stand back.

“That was my plan. So this guy comes in and he has a plastic bag and he says, ‘fill it with money’.

“He then went around to the other part of the counter and I thought, ‘well, he doesn’t have a gun’ because surely it would have made more sense for him to show it to me.

“I went to the cash register and he thought I was going to get the money for him.

"But I took the keys out and threw them away. I looked at him, like, now what are you going to do? He went to where I had thrown the keys and that’s when I grabbed the axe.

“I actually have a hurley back there too but I grabbed the axe by mistake. And when he saw it, your man was gone, off down the road. I went after him but he was too quick”.

Police confirmed that the attempted robbery was under investigation and urged the public not to resist an assailant, saying that while the impulse to protect property or merchandise might seem natural, doing so could pose a “significant risk of serious injury or worse”.

But Michael, whose exploits have been featured on local TV and radio stations, said he would have no hesitation in defending his property if another would-be robber fancied his chances.

Asked if he would do it again a defiant Michael declared: “Absolutely”.

“And I’ve made that very clear in the interviews I’ve done over here. We’re here five years and we’ve worked hard to build up our business from scratch. They can come again, with a gun or with a tank, but they're not gonna get anything from me.

"It’s up to each individual person or business to decide what they are going to do. I’m not telling them what they should do. But if businesses don’t stand up for themselves, you’re going to get robbed every day.”

Michael settled in Bermuda with his wife after retiring as a bricklayer in London.

“It’s lovely here, it's very much like Ireland, except for the weather. It's only 24 miles square, so everybody knows everybody else.”

Michael added that while Bermuda is not a violent place, “like everywhere else, like every country in the world, it has its problems”.

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