- Cash and carry owner Shammi Atwal chased gang of 10 from his property
- He was pursuing the raiders down the street when he was pushed
- The businessman was killed by the passing lorry which couldn't stop in time
- His wife, Deepa, who witnessed the incident, needed hospital treatement
By Aaron Sharp
A father-of-two died after being pushed under a moving lorry as he chased a smash-and-grab gang that tried to rob his cash and carry.
Shammi Atwal, 44, confronted the mob of 10 who were armed with metal bars and a sledgehammer, when they tried to raid his property in broad daylight yesterday morning.
He was with his business partner wife at their Glen and Co Cash & Carry in River Road, Barking, east London, when the gang, all described as white men, stormed the building at 10:20am.
Investigation: Mr Atwal's Glenn & Co Cash and Carry, pictured, is cordoned off after the Metropolitan Police launched a murder investigation
Close look: Forensic investigators were today combing the scene for clues after Mr Atwal was killed
The brave couple had fought off the attackers but tragedy struck when Mr Atwal was crushed by a moving lorry as he pursued the gang down the road
It is believed one of the fleeing robbers pushed the shop owner in front of the heavy goods vehicle in a bid to escape.
The blameless lorry driver stopped immediatley at the scene and is helping police with their enquiries.
Mr Atwal, from Chigwell, Essex, was pronounced dead at the scene by local ambulance staff shortly after 11am on Monday, about half an hour after the attempted robbery.
A post-mortem examination has yet to take place.
His wife, Deepa, 37, who witnessed the raid, suffered minor injuries and was said by family to be devastated.
Mr Atwal's uncle Tarsem Singh, 65, said his nephew would be terribly missed by the Sikh community.
He said: 'He worked very, very hard and the rest of the time was spent with his family or at the Sikh temple.
'He had a good business because he was dedicated. He did charity work at the Sikh temples in Ilford and Barking. He would help anyone out.
'He will be so missed by so many people. He was very honourable and one of the nicest people you could meet and a wonderful father.'
Jagtar Chatha, 61, a friend of Mr Atwal's and manager at the EastEnders Cash And Carry in Leyton, described the trader as a very religious man who was not violent.
Gathering evidence: A police officer from the Met's Homicide and Major Crime Command holds an evidence bag which appears to contain a bat
on the trail: Officers want to track down the 10 white men whose botched raid on the warehouse led to the Mr Atwal's death
Mr Chatha said: 'I have known him for a long, long time. He was a good man, a very good man and very nice.
'He was a loving family man with a wife and two young kids. When I heard the news I was just so shocked. I'm very, very shocked.
'He didn't drink or go out.
'He was a very, very, religious man who went to the temple every morning before work. He didn't argue with anyone, he didn't fight with anyone.
'These people came and whatever happened, he's not a violent person.
Mr Chatha said the cash and carry boss employed around eight or nine people in his riverside warehouse, and was popular with his staff.
He added: (Shammi) was a very religious man. He would get up in the morning very early. I would always see him at the temple in Barking and he used to go there for five or six o'clock in the morning.
'He would go to work and go home at the end of the day - he would keep to himself.'
Another business man on the industrial estate said the gang may have known Mr Atwal's daily routine as the struck just as his guard digs had been taken for a walk.
Businessman Erdal Gurgur said: 'I came out and did not know what was going on. I could see the paramedics trying to resuscitate him so I knew then it was really bad.
'I think they (the robbers) probably knew what they were doing.
'They normally have two big guard dogs there and they are as big as a wolf. There is someone that walks them - maybe they might have known the times they are taken out for walks.'
Gurgur recalled Mr Atwal as a 'friendly man', saying he often saw him with his young daughter who was a toddler.
He said: 'He always smiles - that picture of him holding his daughter close was all I could think of all night'.
Appeal: Detective Chief Inspector Neale Baldock, who is leading the investigation, said, 'People in the community know who committed this appalling and cowardly crime.'
A murder inquiry has since been launched by the Metropolitan Police's Homicide and Major Crime Command.
Detective Chief Inspector Neale Baldock, who is leading the investigation, said: 'This was a man trying to stop thieves robbing his business.
'He acted bravely in defence of his wife and managed to chase the robbers from his premises only for him to be pushed in front of a moving lorry.
'People in the community know who committed this appalling and cowardly crime and I would urge them to contact my officers.'