policia (2).jpg

Police manhunt underway after armed getaway gang shoots driver dead in afternoon of horror in Sintra

A police manhunt is underway after an armed gang robbed a security truck in Sintra yesterday, killing a motorway driver after their operation went pear-shaped.

Forty-nine-year-old estate agent João Carlos Silva was on his way to a birthday party with his wife when he was fatally shot.

Conflicting stories this morning give two scenarios, one being bullets sprayed at traffic by the gang having gone through the door of his Mercedes and punctured Silva’s femoral artery.

Despite instantly losing “a lot of blood”, he managed to continue driving 2 km to the nearest payment booths, where his desperate wife appealed for help, writes Correio da Manhã.

SIC television news suggests Silva was shot at point-blank raid in the stomach, after being held up at the payment booth itself.

Whatever the sequence of events, he was assisted at the scene by two teams from the nearby Algueirão fire station and an emergency vehicle from the São Francisco Xavier hospital but died on his way to hospital.

According to CM, another driver told reporters how he had been ahead of Silva shortly after 2pm yesterday afternoon when he realised there were seven armed men on foot ahead firing at cars “trying to make them stop”.

“I managed to reverse out of the way”, he told CM. “But I couldn’t warn the other man.”

Silva continued into the fray to be hit by one of the many bullets.

The robbers ended up hijacking a small Citroën C3 from a terrified woman driver, writes CM, leaving her and her passengers by the side of the road.

They are described as having made off in the direction of Terrugem, but at time of writing – and despite multiple calls from members of the public saying they thought they knew where the gang was – they still remain at large with all the bags of money that they managed to steal.

The horror began at the Continente supermarket in Lourel at 2pm. The gang, using two stolen Audi cars, attacked the security vehicle which was on its way to empty an ATM machine at the complex.

As they made off, one of the security guards is understood to have fired at the tyres of one of the cars. This is what is thought to have led to all the men to pile into one Audi – which skidded out of control a short distance along the A16 – and why the gang then took to the highway, firing indiscriminately in an attempt to get cars to stop.

The second Audi involved in the raid was left at the scene.

Police teams were thus left with multiple crime scenes to process – and the A16 remained closed to traffic until 8pm.

With the investigation now in the hands of PJ detectives, the hunt is intensifying for the seven men, described as “heavily armed, with a sawn-off shotgun and various pistols”.
For now, there are no details on the amount of cash involved in the raid.

The dead man has been described as a resident of nearby Mem Martins, and very “well respected locally”.

João Carlos Silva leaves a wife and two children.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com