Heist ends in suicide

A cornered gunman, suspected of having robbed an Athens post office, killed himself at the entrance to a busy metro station in the city center yesterday afternoon, apparently in a desperate bid to evade arrest. In a separate violent heist not much earlier in a mountain village in central Greece, two armed men escaped with the contents of a bank safe following a heavy exchange of fire with the police, and having taken a teller hostage to safely exit the building. The woman was released unhurt shortly afterward, while nobody was injured. In the Athens robbery, two hooded intruders stole 32,000 euros at gunpoint from a post office in the western central district of Kolonos around 1.45 p.m., and made off on a motorbike. A passing motorist gave chase in his car, while using his mobile phone to keep police informed of the robbers’ movements. At a railway level crossing on the corner of Constantinoupoleos Avenue and Maroneias Street, the bike crashed, forcing the robbers to flee separately on foot. Officers eventually ran down one man just outside the entrance to the Larissa metro station, shortly after 2 p.m. Police said the man, identified late yesterday as Giorgos Vaptismas, 39, then pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the mouth, dying instantly. Two pistols and two grenades were found on Vaptismas’s body. Meanwhile, police in the Parnassus area were seeking the two men who held up an Agricultural Bank branch in the village of Amfikleia, some 55km southeast of Lamia, shortly after 1 p.m. One robber acted as a lookout outside the bank, while the other ordered cashiers to hand him the safe’s contents, firing a shotgun into the air to drive home his point. But the safe took 15 minutes to open – due to a special security feature – and by then police had arrived. As the robber outside held officers off in a terse gunfight, his accomplice took a teller hostage, securing a safe getaway for both. It is unclear how much money was stolen.

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