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Posted by portugalpress on June 11, 2018

Police are still on the trail of the armed gang which shot dead an elderly café owner in Almada on Friday evening.

The three men burst into the Anita café in Rua Maria Lamas “at the exact moment that bets closed for Euromillions”.

“Indifferent to the more than 10 people present” they went straight to the till where the owner’s wife had been taking the money for lottery slips and “demanded all the money” inside it.

Hermenegildo Varela went to the aid of his partner, saying: “Leave her alone. Go away” - and it was at this point, say reports, that he was shot twice in the stomach.

The 70-year-old fell to the ground and the gang “ran for the door”, writes Correio da Manhã tabloid.

A fourth member of the group, driving the getaway car, had moved from outside the café after the shots were fired, and thus the fleeing trio had to run about 200 metres to where he had parked before the grey Mercedes set off at high speed.

The car has since been found abandoned in a neighbourhood nearby “known for being a problematic area”, says the paper.

Registered to a woman, forensic work is now ongoing to try and pinpoint the gang’s identities.

The car had not been reported as stolen, said CM over the weekend, therefore police will be trying to establish what the relationship was between the owner of the vehicle and the men now on the run.

Initial investigations suggest everyone in the car will have been wearing gloves.

Meantime, the effects of the abortive hold-up have seen tributes to Hermenegildo Varela, who had run the little business with his wife Palmira for 30 years.

Described as a man who was always ready to help anybody, the consensus is that his devastated wife will be unable to reopen the café without him.

One neighbour told reporters the pair were “like Siamese twins, where one went, the other went too”.

CM adds that “almost every shop owner and resident in the area has stories of crime to tell” of life in a suburb where hold-ups and burglaries have become commonplace.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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