Waiter Mohamed Hussein denies he is a hero
– 29-year-old bodybuilding law student described like ‘Vin Diesel’
– Scotland Yard praises bravery of public
A waiter who tackled an axe wielding gang after a smash and grab raid at Selfridges today denied he was a hero saying he only did “what any human being would do.”
Mohamed Hussein, who works in a pizza restaurant, sprinted outside and pinned down one of the armed robbers after the dramatic raid in Oxford Street last night.
The 29-year-old bodybuilder and law student, described by a colleague as a “Vin Diesel action hero,” pinned down the raider with the help of other members of the public in the busy West End.
Today he told the Standard : “I feel confident anyone would do this. I am no hero.”
He added: “Some other guys helped me hold him, while we waited for the police. I wasn’t worried. I used to do boxing.”
Scotland Yard said a group of six men, all dressed in burkas, entered the store at around 8.30pm just before closing time last night.
Witnesses said it appeared the men had disguised themselves as rich Arab women, with some carrying designer handbags.
They mingled with hundreds of shoppers before suddenly producing axes and smashed their way into display cabinets stuffing dozens of high value luxury watches worth tens of thousands of pounds into bags.
They fled and jumped onto at least three waiting motorycles driven by associates.
Student Anuj Dabeesingh, 22, from Uxbridge, who was shopping in the menswear section on the first floor said: “I saw four men completely in burkas, posing as women carrying women’s handbags. At first I thought it was a shot, a spray of glass shattering, breaking – we heard that and people were just running about.
“I saw a staff member lying on the ground and then we saw four men running, trying to get away. That all happened in under a minute.”
Bevan Adams, 26, from South Woodford, was passing by the store when he saw two men in balaclavas trying to make their escape.
He said: “There was a lot of screaming and shouting, it emptied like a bomb had gone off. People were really wailing and screaming.”
Two of the raiders leapt onto a moped but it crashed just yards from Selfridges. One, dressed in a burka struggled to rise after breaking his leg, and the other in a bike helmet, was wrestled to the ground by waiter Mr Hussein.
Today a colleague said the waiter had simply tried to stop the robbers because he knew they were “doing something wrong”.
He said: “I spoke to him, he obviously is a confident person and knows how to self defend and he said he did what any good citizen would have done.
“The security guards didn’t do anything but one man from a pizza shop stopped him, what if he wasn’t working that day? They would have got away.”
He described him as “huge” but said he was a “friendly giant”.
He said: “If I was doing something like that and Mohamed got in my way I would stop and surrender because he’s so huge.
“I’ve been to the gym with him and you don’t want to mess with this guy, he’s huge, but a friendly giant.”
Matthew Carrozo, 28, a visual marketing manager from east London, who had been having a drink near where the moped crashed, said: “All of a sudden this guy who looks like Vin Diesel came out and pinned the guy in the bike helmet to the ground. He struggled but people started pouncing on this guy.
“They held him down for about 10 minutes until the police arrived.
“There were about six or seven really expensive watches strewn across the road and dozens in a duffle bag which had come open a bit.”
Scotland Yard today praised the “brave and quick-thinking” members of the public who tackled two members of the gang.
One man was today being treated in hospital for a broken leg. The man held by Mr Hussein was being interviewed at a central London police station.
Two other stolen motorbikes were found in the Paddington area.
Det Ch Insp Andy Noyes, from the Flying Squad, said: “This was a brazen robbery, and appears to have been well planned and thought through. Fortunately no one was injured. The store was very busy and this will have been shocking thing for people to witness.
“I’d like to thank those members of the public who stepped in and detained our two suspects. Their quick thinking and brave actions have helped our investigation.”
Police appealed for anyone who was in or around Selfridges last night who witnessed the robbery, or saw the suspects before or after the robbery, to contact them.