Wild shootout during gas station robbery

October 1, 2009 7:34:39 AM PDT
Three armed mask-wearing robbers held up a store at an East Elmhurst gas station Thursday morning -- and then got the surprise of their lives when they were met by police officers waiting outside. Eyewitness News is told the plainclothes anti-crime unit police officers happened to be driving past the Citgo gas station at 85th Street and Astoria Boulevard when they saw three men holding it up just before 1 a.m.

The men, armed and wearing masks, burst into the shop at the gas station, reportedly pushing one worker to the ground while ordering the other behind the counter to hand over money and lottery tickets.

The two plainclothes officers then pulled into the gas station parking lot and called for backup.

When the suspects came out of the store to make their getaway, they were met by the shield-wearing officers yelling "police" and ordering them to drop the weapons.

Police say the suspects instead opened fire on the officers, firing multiple times as they ran for their getaway vehicle. The officers returned fire.

The three suspects reportedly fled in a small four-door, possibly gray, Toyota Corolla, with a ski rack on top. Police followed the vehicle eastbound on Northern Boulevard, but lost it in the area of 101st Street.

None of the police officers involved in the shootout were injured. Police were not sure if they hit any of the suspects and were canvasing hospitals searching for patients with gunshot wounds.

Two .45-caliber guns, believed to be used by suspects, were recovered. One was found at the gas station and the other a block away, along with some of the lottery tickets.

The three men were all described as all about 5-foot-8, all wearing dark hoodies and jeans.

Neither gas station attendant was seriously injured. They were being interviewed by detectives.

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