© Photograph: Emma Hallett/PA
Police at the Devon Ladbrokes where a masked armed robber died after being disarmed and pinned down by customers.
Police say masked man apparently carrying imitation pistol when he was disarmed and pinned down by Ladbrokes customers.

A gunman collapsed and died after being disarmed and pinned down by customers as he tried to rob a bookmakers.

Alan Levers, 50, was believed to be wearing a gas mask and holding a gun when he entered Ladbrokes in Plymouth on Friday night. Customers tackled him to the floor while others contacted the police. Officers found Levers unconscious and attempted to help him but he was later declared dead.

Plymouth police commander Andy Bickley said the gun appeared to have been an imitation pistol. He added that four men were in the betting shop at the time of the incident and had been questioned by police but not arrested.

Bickley said: "I can share with you that the firearm has been initially examined by a police firearms officer and it appears to be an imitation pistol, though this still needs to be verified.

"I would like to add, however, that there would have been no way of knowing this at the time of the incident. The actions taken by members of the public in the shop were brave and showed a disregard for their own safety."

David Walker, 55, from Plymouth, entered the shop a few minutes after the incident and found the gunman being restrained.

"When I went in there, they were on the floor, they were scuffling on the floor. I just thought it was just a fight or something," he said.

"The bloke behind the counter told me they weren't taking any bets and I had to leave.

"I didn't see their faces, as they were holding the guy down at the back of the shop. I couldn't see any mask and there wasn't any physical movement, they were just holding him."

The betting shop remained closed on Saturday while police continued their investigations.

Bickley said the incident has been voluntarily referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.