Melbourne police have launched a fresh appeal for information 18-months after a man was shot during a robbery.

The robbery took place at a sports bar and pokies club in the Waverley Gardens Shopping Centre in Mulgrave. Two armed, masked men entered the gaming venue in Melbourne’s south-east before demanding money. A grey hooded jumper, camouflage pants and a hi-vis orange backpack was the attire of one man. The other wore a black Everlast brand hooded jumper, dark pants, black shoes with white soles, and a guitar case.

A man calling himself only George appeared at a press conference on Monday where he described the incident. George explained he heard the voices of two men and went outside to see what the commotion was about. He was about to discover he was in the middle of a robbery attempt.

Man describes robbery scene

“There was screaming and then we come in and saw one guy pointing a gun towards the ladies. One of the ladies was my wife in the front, two metres from the gun.”

George further explained the gunmen ordered customers to get on the ground. One of the assailants marched around the gaming floor, patrolling it and keeping a lookout. The other stormed behind the counter and demanded cash from a member of staff who was terrified due to having a gun pointed at them.

Patrons, including George, confronted the men as they attempted to escape with an unknown quantity of cash. Those patrons threw pool cues and chairs as to thwart the robbers.

“The armed man was rushing backwards so I was in front of him and grabbed him on the stairs and then I started to have a fight with him,” said George who also stated he was worried about his wife. “I was nearly 10 centimetres from grabbing his gun, then I feel a hit to the back of my head.”

A laceration requiring six stitches

Police at the scene of the armed robbery Police at the scene of the armed robbery

One of the gunmen hit George on the head with the butt of the gun in a vicious attack. This caused a large laceration to George’s head that required six stitches to close.

The robbers made it to the car park and one of them fired their gun. The bullet ricocheted off the ceiling and hit George in the stomach. Amazingly, George was completely unaware of being shot during the robbery for a couple of hours.

“I was in the hospital and noticed part of the bullet that had ricocheted from the roof. I was very lucky because it was not very, very deep. Doctors gave me an X-ray and they said it was between the skin and muscle.”

Medical staff successfully removed the bullet from George’s stomach, although he has been left with scaring.

“Cowards” is how George described the at large gunmen whose actions during the robbery have left him living in fear. “it’s affected me a lot, we changed hose from that day because we were living close to that area and we said better we move on.”

Police appeal for new information

Police revealed another heist that happened a day before the hold-up. Two shotguns and two rifles were taken from a licensed firearms owner in Cockatoo. Three men were spotted arriving near the shopping centre in a Mitsubishi sedan sporting fake number plates. One man stayed in the car, an apparent getaway driver, while the other two entered the gaming venue.

Detective Inspector Dean Thomas hopes new information would surface following the armed robbery featuring on a new podcast called Warning Shot.

“These are brazen criminals, and we need to get them off Victorian streets. We implore anyone with information to come forward and share what they know,” Thomas said. “They might think it’s nothing, but it might just be the final piece of the puzzle that we need to solve this crime. We could have had other victims in this had it gone badly.”