WATCH: Police praise Post Office staff after gun was fired in attempted Sunderland raid

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Staff at a Sunderland Post Office which fell victim to an attempted armed robbery have been praised by police as they seek to reassure the community after the 'very rare' incident.

Speaking to the press outside Southwick Police Station this afternoon, temporary Superintendent Paul Milner of Southern Area Command, said you would have to go back 'years' to find a similar incident, in which a firearm was discharged in Sunderland.

The scene of the attempted armed raid on Monday.

The scene of the attempted armed raid on Monday.

Officers are continuing to question two men - aged 31 and 45 - arrested following the attempted raid at Ford Post Office yesterday.

Police sealed off a section of Hylton Road after two males - one carrying a firearm - entered the premises at about 4.50pm and demanded cash.

When the staff member refused to hand over any money, one of the men discharged the weapon before the pair fled empty-handed.

The men left the scene in a car that was later found abandoned in St Luke's Road. , along with a firearm and discarded clothing, believed to have been worn by the offenders.

The scene of the attempted armed raid on Monday.

The scene of the attempted armed raid on Monday.

the two men were arrested in Garfield Street, Pallion, and remain in custody.

Supt Milner said: "At 4.50pm yesterday afternoon, we received information that two males had entered the Post Office on Hylton Road, on ford Estate, and one of them was in possession of a firearm. The male then discharged the firearm at the scene.

"They then made off in a car that was parked nearby.

"After a short while we received information about two males.

"We attended that scene, a short distance away, and we carried out a pre-planned firearms operation, involving various different tactics, which ultimately led to the arrests of two males and they are both in custody now.

"We have recovered what we believe to be the firearm used in the offence and it is a viable shotgun."

Meanwhile, staff at the Post Office bravely opened up their business this morning.

Speaking from behind shattered safety glass at the counter, Rob Forster, who runs the Post Office with wife Joanne, said the couple were 'fine' after their terrifying ordeal.

He said: "We are fine. It was distressing at the time, but we're alright.

"There is obviously a bit of damage - they shot a shotgun in here.

"We've heard the police have arrested someone."

Supt Milner paid tribute to their bravery and quick-thinking actions, which allowed police to make the arrests.

He said: "As you would expect, the staff within the Post Office were distressed, however, I would like to take this opportunity to thank them - command them - for how they remained calm and immediately contacted the police, which ultimately led to the arrests.

"Offences of this nature are extremely rare, especially where a firearm has been discharged at the scene.

"You have to go back many, many years in Sunderland for something like this, and what I would say is that you will see a lot of police officers in and around the area and these police officers will be there to reassure the public.

"Please engage with them, speak to the officers and they will give you as much information as they can."

Any witnesses should ring Northumbria Police on 101 quoting reference 768 160117 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.