Strangers help nab armed robber

(From left) Mr V Seshakumar, Mr Kong Ngai Kiong, Mr Kong Chun Yuen, Mr Somasunthram Niranjan with Miss Anusha Moorthy.

SINGAPORE - When the knife-wielding robber ran off with her wallet, Miss Anusha Moorthy thought she would never see it again.

Then, a passer-by told her that three men had jumped off a bus to chase the robber and had caught him.

Another man, who was driving by with his daughter, also stopped to call the cops.

On Thursday, Miss Anusha, a 30-year-old IT analyst with SingTel, told reporters at a press conference at the Central Police Divisional HQ that her four heroes and their selfless act showed that strangers do care.

At about 2.15pm on Wednesday, the permanent resident from India was in Serangoon Road, trying to flag down a cab, when a man in a dark brown jacket and a red cap walked past.

He suddenly spun around and pulled out a 30cm-long knife from his jacket.

He mumbled something she could not understand and grabbed her iPhone and wallet from her hands while waving the knife at her stomach.

"I was afraid that he would harm me if I screamed," said Miss Anusha, adding that the man then pressed the knife against her thigh. She took a step back and fell.

The man sprinted towards St Michael's Road and she lost sight of him.

She said: "My wallet had about $100 and I thought it was as good as lost."

She was wrong.

From aboard a passing SBS bus, friends Kong Chun Yuen and Kong Ngai Kiong had seen the struggle.

So did another bus passenger, Mr V Seshakumar.

Former policemen

Mr Chun Yuen, 56, a former policeman with more than 20 years' experience, said: "I thought it was just a quarrel between a couple until the man started running away."

He asked Mr Ngai Kiong, 54, also a former policemen of over 30 years' experience: "What do we do?"

His friend uttered just one word: "Go."

They told the bus driver to let them off at the nearest stop and they chased after the man on St Michael's Road.

Mr Seshakumar, a store manager at Giant supermarket, said: "I thought they could be in danger, so I decided to go for the man as well."

When Mr Ngai Kiong caught up with him, the alleged robber brandished his knife. Mr Ngai Kiong leapt back and fell, hitting his head on the road.

He said: "I was shocked and taken aback because we didn't know he was armed."

The man continued running, but Mr Chun Yuen and Mr Seshakumar did not give up the pursuit, and they flanked the culprit in a pincer movement.

Mr Seshakumar said: "I was scared at that point, but my only concern was the knife in his right hand. I knew that if we disarmed him, we would be able to get him easily."

After chasing him for 200m, they finally got their man.

As the man swung his knife at Mr Chun Yuen on his right, Mr Seshakumar swooped in from the left and grabbed the man's jacket before wrestling him to the ground.

Mr Chun Yuen then twisted the man's right arm before punching it.

He said: "Immediately. he released the knife, which Mr Seshakumar picked up and (threw) onto the pavement far away."

Together, the pair arm-locked the man and pinned him to the ground.

Unknown to the group, another man, Mr Somasunthram Niranjan, 48, who was driving past with his 13-year-old daughter, saw everything.

He had slowed down and tailed them during the chase that lasted between five and 10 minutes.

When the suspect was finally subdued, Mr Niranjan called the police.

Officers recovered Miss Anusha's wallet, the 30cm knife and two papercutters from the man.

Surprised

Said Miss Anusha: "I was really surprised given that there was no one around me when (the man) took my wallet.

"I never thought there would be strangers who would help a fellow stranger.

"I'm really very grateful. Never would I expect people to risk their lives for me."

The four Good Samaritans were awarded police commendations for public spiritedness on Thursday.

Mr Chun Yuen said: "We all have a responsibility to keep our streets safe. This could have happened to anyone's children or family member."

Acting Commander of Central Police Division Tan Kuan Wei commended the four men for their bravery and selflessness and thanked them for their assistance in apprehending the suspect.

The suspect will be charged in court with armed robbery on Friday.

If convicted, he can be jailed up to 10 years and can be given up to 12 strokes of the cane.

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