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Belfast shopkeeper tackles knife-wielding thief with fire extinguisher

A Belfast shopkeeper has been hailed a hero after tackling a knife-wielding thug with a fire extinguisher.

Allen Butler, duty manager of the Co-op on the Ballysillan Road in the north of the city, remained tight-lipped about his heroics on Saturday night, but he has received support from local councillors for his actions.

Just after 8pm on Saturday, a man armed with a large kitchen knife went into the shop and threatened staff.

Mr Butler deployed the fire extinguisher in the man’s face and the robber ran off empty-handed.

Local Ulster Unionist councillor Fred Cobain said that while Mr Butler’s actions were “very courageous” he urged caution over people taking the law into their own hands.

“I would think every right- thinking person would be in |support of what he did, initially,” he said.

“It was probably a natural reaction and a very courageous thing to do. These robberies can be so spontaneous and not something you can always plan for.

“It must be very frustrating for shopkeepers who are trying to make a living and serve the community and then someone comes in for what they think is easy pickings — but obviously that is not what happened here.

“These sorts of crimes do not happen often on the Ballysillan Road and it is a very close-knit community.

“People do stand up for one another so this man was probably doing what he thought was right in protecting his customers and staff.

“Luckily, no one was seriously hurt.

“The problem with acting in this way is if it goes wrong and someone gets seriously hurt, what is in the till or on the shelves is not worth people getting badly hurt or even killed.”

An onlooker at the scene on Saturday night, who did not wish to be named, told the Belfast Telegraph: “The man came in off the street with a knife, he looked like he was on something.

“The man behind the counter let the fire extinguisher off in his face and he went on his backside before escaping. It was bizarre.”

Belfast Telegraph