• Sweden's news in English

78-year-old attacks armed bank robber

David Landes · 14 Apr 2008, 13:11

Published: 14 Apr 2008 13:11 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“There had been so many break-ins at the bank and nothing had happened. I was just irritated by it,” said Valter Törnberg to The Local.

Törnberg was on his way out of the bank recently when a car pulled up and three armed men dressed in heavy jackets and masks jumped out.

“It just came to me to do something. I had a camera in my car and I thought I could maybe get a picture of their car,” he explained.

Törnberg grabbed his camera and a metal tool from his car and set off to snap a photo of the robbers’ vehicle.

Just then, the man on lookout come out from the other side the robbers' car and pointed an automatic weapon directly at Törnberg’s chest.

But the retired prison worker wasn’t afraid.

Rather than flee, he instead started walking toward the gun-wielding man.

“I wanted to get closer to get a better picture,” he said.

“I don’t know, I just decided to do it; I just became really calm and felt, ‘I can handle this.’”

Törnberg took a picture of the gunman and was about to point his digital camera toward the robbers’ car when the device fell from his hands, its batteries flying out upon hitting the ground.

But his actions unnerved the thief, who then began slowly walking backwards toward the bank’s entrance, keeping his weapon pointed at the pensioner.

“I knew he wouldn’t shoot an old man,” said Törnberg, who followed the gunman into the bank.

The robber called for help from his accomplices, who were busy emptying the bank’s safe. Bank employees and customers were on the ground as one of the other thieves came at Törnberg with a crowbar.

“At that point, I realized there wasn’t anything more I could do,” he said.

“I raised my hands and said, ‘I give up.’”

But as he began walking out of the bank followed by the same gunman he had met outside, Törnberg couldn’t let the injustice of having a gun pointed at him go unpunished.

Just near the bank entrance, Törnberg noticed out of the corner of his eye that the robber had turned his head back toward the bank. In an instant, the 78-year-old turned and lunged at the gunman, landing a blow to the man’s head with the metal tool.

The gunman fell to the floor and dropped his gun.

Törnberg could have picked up the weapon, but decided not to, fearing that taking the weapon could have resulted in harm coming to the people held hostage inside.

“If I’d been alone, I probably would have taken the gun,” he said.

Törnberg turned and continued “walking calmly” back to his car, despite a shot being fired at him by one of the other armed men.

Back in his car, Törnberg regretted his actions.

“I’ve never hit anyone like that in my life,” he said.

Story continues below…

“I could have just as easily left the bank without hurting the man.”

But Törnberg’s worries over the fallen bank robber's condition evaporated when he saw all three men leaving the scene together.

“I was relieved to see that the third man was with the others and to know I hadn’t hurt him too badly,” he said.

Tornberg was able to recover the picture of the gunman from his dropped camera and turned it over to police, who eventually arrested all three suspects.

Despite having been retired for nearly twenty-years, Törnberg believes that his thirty years working in Swedish prisons played a role in his decision to intervene.

“I’d spent a lot of time with criminals and learned from their stories how they think, what their tactics are,” he said.

“The knowledge and strength one earns from working for thirty years tends to stick around.”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available