Two young staff members at a Newry off-licence were left “badly traumatised” after being threatened by a robber brandishing a large knife on Monday evening.
And it has emerged that children had to be ushered away by members of the local community association after the sickening raid at the Warrenpoint Road.
It was around 5pm on Monday that Greenbank Winelodge was targeted by the robber, who fled the scene with cash.
Police have made an appeal for witnesses and issued a description, after he reportedly entered the neighbouring Centra at the Greenbank Service Station.
It has been reported by one local councillor that he may have been put off by the number of people on the premises, making a hasty retreat with just biscuits and sweets.
Newry City Sinn Féin Councillor Valerie Harte has condemned the person responsible and appealed for witnesses to come forward with any information which they may have.
She said: “I have talked to business owners and community representatives and share the anger and concern at this most recent criminal act.
“A masked man brandishing a large knife entered the Greenbank off-licence and threatened the two young staff before robbing them. Both are badly traumatised by this event.
“There were a lot of young children in the area at the time and, with the help of the local community association, were ushered away from the scene.
“It is believed the same individual may have also been attempting to rob the local Centra store but was put off by the large presence of people in the shop, but stole biscuits and confectionary.”
She said there was great anger in the community at what had happened.
“Our thoughts are with the business owner and the two young people who have been left deeply shocked,” added Councillor Harte.
“No-one should have to deal with this whilst trying to earn a living.
“If you were in the area and saw anything suspicious, please ensure to contact the police. Meanwhile I urge all to remain vigilant and calm.”
The PSNI said the culprit was wearing a green parka coat and had a green and white scarf pulled around his face.
He also wore a dark hat, tracksuit bottoms and trainers, with white soles.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “Detectives are appealing for any witnesses or persons who have any dash cam footage of this male in the area please contact police on 101 quoting reference 1474 30/12/2019.”