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Archive - Thursday, 7 March 2002
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Veg store siege drama
A man hurled oranges at police and headbutted a window during a four-hour siege at a fruit and veg shop.
The stand-off began yesterday afternoon when the man flung himself from a first-floor window, landing among vegetables on the pavement.
He abused shoppers, hurled cucumbers into the air and kicked a roadsweeper before bursting into the shop where he attacked the owner with a broom.
He ransacked the store, headbutted a window and barricaded himself inside using sacks of potatoes.
Armed with a broom, he stayed until police in riot gear entered with dogs just after 7pm.
An ambulance arrived and two paramedics brought the man out on a stretcher at 7.20pm.
Shouting "hallelujah", "one, two, three" and "I love you", he was accompanied by police and paramedics in the ambulance.
Police had surrounded Stan's Quality Fruits in Blatchington Road, Hove, after the terrified owner fled to make a 999 call.
Officers closed a 50yd stretch of the street from its junction with Sackville Road at 3.30pm after the man began showering them with oranges.
They started negotiations with him while five officers in riot gear stood guard.
The man, who was in 50s and barefoot, was wearing a grey shirt covered in blood.
He was spotted helping himself to fruit from the racks.
A crowd gathered to watch from behind a police cordon and a group of six people, believed to be his relatives, stood with officers nearby in silence.
Dave Wharton, 23, of Rowan Avenue, Hove, was on his way to a video shop when he saw the man fall from a window above the store, before headbutting the glass and rushing inside.
He said: "We saw him falling on to the stall at the front of the shop. He got up and started attacking passers-by with his hands and fists.
"He then ran into the traffic and hit a roadsweeper with his bare feet. It was like a flying kick.
"He was screaming and abusing people before he ran into the shop and started ransacking it.
"When police arrived he chucked oranges at them. He was cut and bleeding - there was blood all over his arms and shirt."
Anne Goldstone, of Branch Road, said: "We were walking along and a guy above the shop started shouting his mouth off. He flung himself on to the fruit stand.
"He got up and began lashing out at anyone around him. Then he ran into the traffic. He ran into the roadsweeper and picked up his broom. He was going crazy.
"He went into the shop and started smashing things up.
"The police arrived in about five minutes and the shopkeeper came out on to the street."
The owner of neighbouring Munn's newsagent, gave refuge to the greengrocer, who was too shocked to speak.
He said: "The man went into the shop and threw everything around, then broke a window. He ransacked the place.
Denise Chambers, 31, watched the siege from her second-floor flat opposite.
She said: "He had something in his hands which he was threatening police with. I couldn't see what it was but every time they approached he waved it around and they pulled back."
Dil Mohammed, who also lives opposite, said: "The whole place was surrounded by police. There were five cars, three vans and two motorcycles."
A police spokesman said: "A man has been taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, by ambulance for a check-up.
"He was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.
"We were concerned about his welfare so we forced an entry to the shop.
"He has been taken to hospital for some cuts he sustained earlier when glass was broken.
"I do not think he put up a struggle."