Police were forced to chase a gang of suspected cash transport robbers through the streets of central Moscow and engage them in a shootout after an attempt to catch them red-handed was met with armed resistance.
“The arrest of the gang, formed on an ethnic basis and suspected carrying out a series of attacks, was undertaken by Moscow police and special forces. The group resisted actively, forcing the police to use personal firearms. No policemen or bystanders sustained injuries as a result of the operation,” said the police department in an official statement.
Police sources told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper that a team, which planned to arrest the group on their way to a robbery, was trailing a Mercedes SUV, holding men from the former Soviet republics of Moldova, Georgia and Tajikistan until it stopped at a traffic light at a busy intersection next to one of Moscow’s largest train stations.
As the police van pulled up, an order was given to intercept the suspects, and a group of armed officers surrounded the car. Yet instead of giving up against overwhelming odds, the criminals locked their doors and performed a U-turn.
Police fired several warning shots up in the air, causing members of the gang to return fire in front of dozens of stunned drivers and passengers who crouched on the floor of their vehicles, according to eyewitness accounts posted on social media.
The escaping car then sped through a street for more than a mile, with police on their tail, until police managed to hit and deflate their tires. The off-roader turned into what seemed like a quiet parking lot next to Moscow’s Danilov Monastery, ramming into several stationary cars in the process.
“I think that the criminals thought that this was a narrow street, and they could escape through here. What they didn’t know, is that this is a dead end,” said Beslan Uspanov, a journalist for Kavpolit, a news website whose office overlooks the spot.