Terror of teen Chloe as gang from Republic of Ireland put gun into her face before stealing car
A teenage girl feared for her life as she was held at gunpoint after a criminal gang smashed their way into her Co Armagh home where she was alone.
Chloe Hawthorne (17) believed she was about to be shot after one of the masked gang pointed a gun in her face and threatened her with it.
The terrifying ordeal unfolded yesterday afternoon after a cross-border gang crashed a stolen car in Markethill at around 4.30pm.
The gang of three young men, all believed to be in their late teens, then made their way to Chloe's home.
Terrified Chloe explained that she was in her bedroom when she heard voices at the back of her family home.
"I was alone in the house and I ran to see who was there when I saw three men coming over the fence into the garden and one of them had a gun in their hand," a shaken Chloe said.
"He was pointing the gun at the back door and shouting for me to open it. They tried to kick the door through but when that didn't work they smashed it with a block that was sitting on the ground.
"They then came through the door and pointed the gun at my face. They were shouting for me to give them the keys to the car and kept shouting, 'Give me the keys or I'll shoot you'.
"I gave them my car keys and they asked where the safe was but we don't have a safe.
"They then made sure I stayed in the room until they left and took my car."
The gang left in Chloe's new white Ford Fiesta which she bought in April after saving up for the last two years.
"It was terrifying. They also stole my mobile phone because I had it in my hand when they came in as I was trying to ring for help," she added.
The Royal School Armagh pupil, who was not hurt in the incident, contacted her grandad and uncle who was nearby before ringing the police.
She said the three gang members were aged between 17 and 19.
"At least myself or no-one else was hurt, but I was badly shaken," she said.
DUP MLA William Irwin slammed the gang behind the armed robbery.
The Newry and Armagh MLA, who visited Chloe at her home, described it as a "shocking and appalling criminal act".
He said the gang stole a car in Dublin yesterday morning before taking it across the border to carry out a "crime spree".
"This spree came to an abrupt end after the gang crashed their stolen vehicle on the Seagahan Road, near Markethill, and then ran to the nearest house to steal another vehicle," he said.
"It is totally shocking that Chloe was put through a horrific ordeal by the gang who were armed with a handgun and threatened her in order to get the keys to her vehicle and they then fled the scene in her new car. My thoughts are with Chloe at this time as she gets over this awful ordeal, it has been such a massive shock for her.
"The issue of criminal gangs carrying out these types of sprees and disappearing back over the border is a huge concern and it is vital that police on both sides of the border do everything possible to robustly stamp out this serious criminal activity."
Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy also condemned the armed robbery.
He said: "This was a particularly nasty crime with a number of armed men intimidating a young woman in her own home. Whoever they are, they obviously have no thought, consideration or care for what they put this lady through.
"This was the latest robbery in a matter of days in the general area and it is particularly concerning that this attack involved the use of firearms," added Mr Kennedy.
Police have appealed for information.