A gunman stormed into a Blackpool bank and threatened staff in a terrifying raid.
The incident happened at around 1pm yesterday at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Westcliffe Drive, Layton.
Detectives said the lone gunman went into the bank and threatened staff inside with what is believed to be a handgun.
After demanding cash, he ran off empty handed.
Police today described the raider as dangerous and warned the public not to approach him.
Residents in the area told of their shock at the attempted robbery, describing how it caused “panic” as the police helicopter was scrambled and officers swooped on the area.
Nathan Hendry, at Gordon Barber Shop, said: “There was a lot of police and a helicopter, it was a lot of commotion.
“The police were coming along asking people how much money they have on the premises. It was just chaos for about an hour, it’s a warren where he ran off to.
“It’s shocking to happen in a little place, especially in broad daylight.”
A worker for a neighbouring business said: “Apparently a man tried to rob the bank but didn’t do it very well.”
One shop owner added: “It’s scary. It’s caused a bit of a public panic.”
The man, described as wearing dark clothing, approached the bank from the direction of Granville Avenue and left down Annesley Avenue towards Mansfield Road.
His movements were caught on CCTV outside neighbouring shops and is now being studied by detectives.
One shop owner, who asked not to be named, told how her CCTV showed the assailant approaching the bank.
She said: “He went straight over and was in there for no time at all.
“He just looked like any normal person.
“The girls in there must have been petrified.”
A number of people said such an incident was almost expected.Mr Hendry added: “He must have been desperate, there’s a lot of desperate people about but that doesn’t mean you go robbing.”
And a worker at Warwick’s Amusements said: “It’s the time of year I imagine.”
One shop owner said: “I’m not surprised at this time of year, it’s people’s desperation.”
Staff at the bank were left shaken but unhurt and the branch was closed for the remainder of the day.
Workers in neighbouring businesses said the small branch was often busy and staffed by “lovely” workers.
Julia Doherty, owner of Julia’s Alterations on the street, said: “We were all worried for the girls who work there, it must have been such a shock, it would be terrifying. They’re lovely girls. It’s frightening.”
Police are continuing to hunt for the man, who they have warned people not to approach.
Det Insp Lee Wilson, of Blackpool Police, said: “I would appeal for anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously around the bank from about 12.30pm or who saw the incident itself to get in touch.
“This man should not be approached but anyone who thinks they see him should call the police.”
Anyone with information is urged to call Blackpool Police on 101 quoting log 0516 of December 18.