It has been described as “56 minutes of terror”: the moment when a group of hooded men armed with two machine guns, pistols and a sledgehammer attacked a Ponte de Lima jewellers’, in a frenzied hail of bullets – none of which succeeded in breaking the reinforced glass shop-front.
As the owner of Matos jewellers disappeared into a specially designed ‘bunker’ at the back of the shop, staff in neighbouring businesses rushed for cover.
Only one man from the opticians opposite was ‘caught out’ investigating the noise of cars screeching to a halt shortly before the attack.
According to reports, the gunmen turned their weapons on him, shooting right through the optician’s window, but luckily missing the horrified man.
Even today (on Monday) – three days after the attack – shopkeepers are apparently unwilling to talk, for fear of reprisals.
The eight-man gang, realising Matos’ shop-front was impenetrable, made off in two Spanish plated top-of-the-rang cars – a BMW and an Audi.
Police had flagged the cars on radars on the A3 motorway hours before, writes Correio da Manhã, and the hunt is now on for the men inside them.
Clues include the apparent ring-leader’s “unaccented Portuguese”.
But one of the ‘big puzzles’ says CM is the weaponry involved. It was the sort commonly used in warfare and “not habitual in Portugal”.
As for the plan to raid the shop, this was the fifth attempt on Matos’ jewellers in the last few years – one of the reasons why the owner has equipped the shop so professionally.