A store manager who counts himself lucky to have escaped the end of a machete says a local shopkeeper is his hero after they abruptly found themselves fending off armed robbers.
Police believe six offenders, armed with a hockey stick, machete and screwdriver, were behind two simultaneous aggravated robberies in the Hillcrest shopping area in Hamilton.
The Thirsty Liquor store and the Cambridge Road Dairy were both robbed about 6.50pm on Tuesday.
The bottle shop's manager, Karun Mittal, said everything happened so fast, recalling first seeing someone running towards him with a machete.
"It was very scary. The most scary thing was the machete," he said.
"I was very, very lucky to escape that thing."
Outnumbered in the store, Mittal ran outside but the attack continued.
He said his heart was with the incredibly brave shopkeeper nearby who had come to his rescue, and was stabbed with a screwdriver.
He had tried to fend off the robbers using a stool.
Mittal said the good Samaritan had gone above and beyond to help.
Even though others were running away he came out and stood up to them, he said.
"He is my hero."
Acting Detective Sergeant Simon Moore said the two aggravated robberies had happened at the same time.
Moore said police believed the group of armed offenders had arrived together using two stolen cars.
"Three alleged offenders went into the Thirsty Liquor store and three targeted the Cambridge Road Dairy," he said.
"The dairy owner was punched several times during the robbery.
"Meanwhile, the owner of the Thirsty Liquor store was threatened with a hockey stick."
The offenders stole a large quantity of cigarettes, alcohol and cash tills before leaving in the two stolen cars - a white Mazda Familia station wagon and a white Honda Civic, Moore said.
Both the dairy owner and the witness were treated for their injuries and were recovering, he said.
All the victims have been offered support.
"Due to the serious nature of this offending it's imperative we identify those involved as soon as possible," Moore said.
"We encourage the public to come forward with any information that can help us locate them and hold them accountable.
"There will be people out there who know who these alleged offenders are.
"Do the right thing and get in touch to help us identify them."
• Anyone with information can contact police on 105 and quote file number 200714/6434, alternatively they can call Crimestoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.