Meet the brave Leeds dad who confronted and put ‘the fear of God into’ machete-wielding thugs during shop raid
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Christopher Bruce was getting some last minute bits for Christmas on December 23, 2021, at the Londis store on Wetherby Road in Whinmoor when the three men carrying weapons entered.
Mr Bruce said that his concern for the lone shopkeeper – who he had become familiar with through regular visits – and growing anger during the raid spurred him on to bravely stand up to the men, telling them to: “Make it quick and leave.”
As tensions rose one of them swung the weapon at Mr Bruce and he responded by grabbing a crate of beer and throwing it at them as they fled the store.
Mr Bruce was honoured for his actions at the Leeds District Police Awards Ceremony at Elland Road stadium last night (Thursday), where he received the District Commanders Commendation award.
CCTV footage of the amazing moment, which you can view above, was played to the room and Mr Bruce spoke to the YEP afterwards.
The father-of-two said he was aiming to get home at 7.30pm that night and pulled into the store an hour before to get some drinks and “say hello to the people behind the counter”.
Mr Bruce said: “I was bent down in the corner looking at the offers when I heard the door open quite loud and someone say ‘Don’t do anything!’. Then I heard a little bit of a squeal. I slowly stood up and looked to my right and about four or five foot away there was a machete in my face.”
He said that one of the three men was a “main aggressor that was controlling what was going on” and threatening the store worker and those in the shop not to do anything. Two of the men went behind the till while the third threatened Mr Bruce and another member of the public in the store at the time.
Mr Bruce said: “I looked at the guy and the first thing I said was ‘Stand the f**k back’. I said it quite loudly and aggressively.”
Mr Bruce said that the man did as he asked and stood back but continued pointing the weapon at him while the other two men started demanding cash from the store worker. Mr Bruce said: “For whatever reason it felt like it was lasting for ages. I couldn’t move or do anything. I was literally stuck in the corner.”
He said that the weapon the man threatening him with was “shaking” and another of the men came up to him and said: “Do you f***ing want some?”
The man then “went to swing his machete” and it was at this point that Mr Bruce said he went “from zero to a hundred”.
He said: “I looked down and thought ‘What can I pick up and throw at them?’ And I laugh to myself about it now because I remember seeing some bottles of Champagne and thinking ‘That looks too expensive’.
"It all happened in a split second. I picked up a crate of beer and tried to do a really long lunge and with both arms launched it at him.”
Mr Bruce said that as he picked up another crate the men “scuttled off” so he chased after them onto the street before turning back and urging staff to call the police.
Speaking about what came over him in the moment, Mr Bruce said: “You feel your neck build up and that you’re going from zero to a hundred in one second. I just started shouting as loud as possible to try and put the fear of God into them.”
He said that officers arrived “in no time" and took statements, though Mr Bruce’s concern had already turned to whether he was going to be back in time for 7.30pm.
He said: “It’s weird how you remove yourself from what’s just happened and I just needed to get home.
"It was just two days before Christmas and you know what? I didn’t even think anything of it afterwards.”
He said that sadly the incident had “really affected” the lady who was working at the shop and that later when the story began being publicised he cosidered what had happened and it dawned on him how close he had been to getting seriously injured. He said: “It would’ve only taken that little bit extra and they could’ve hit me in the face or the collar. It could easily have gone from an armed robbery to something else very quickly.”
Mr Bruce, who attended the awards ceremony with his daughter, said it was “lovely” to receive the recognition and added: “Out of everything I’m pleased my daughter’s come. Not for me but to create some kind of bond between an 11-year-old and an authority because when I was her age if you got told off by a bobby then you did as you were told. Whereas now I feel there isn’t as much around that.”
Two men – Jeffrey Chikosha and Brandon Jarrett – were jailed for the incident and another two violent robberies in July. They were identified by an officer who was able to recognise their voices from the CCTV footage.
The officer, DC Alan Andrews, also received an award for his work on the case, though he was not able to accept it in person as he has since moved to Australia.
Speaking to his former colleagues on a pre-recorded video at the ceremony, DC Andrews said: “It’s been the best decision in the world coming to Australia so if anyone else is thinking about it come along.”