“At first I thought it was firecrackers, but when I looked outside I saw police with machine guns and shields over their faces. Everyone ran for cover,” eye witness Mats Wiksten told the Expressen newspaper.
“There was a group of school children who had just left school who ran like crazy.”
According to the police, officers responding to the call about the robbery were fired upon and opened fire in return, unleashing a total of 16 shots.
Following the exchange of gunfire, police arrested three people suspected of having robbed a jewellery store in Stockholm’s Östermalm district.
There were no reports of injuries as a result of the shootout.
“We’re looking around the area to make sure that no one was hurt,” police spokesperson Ulf Lindgren told the TT news agency.
“When officers arrived the perpetrators were still there and just about to make their getaway.”
Suddenly, the robbers opened fire, prompting police to shoot back.
Eleven of the shots fired by police ended up going through the window of the nearby Metropolis gym on Birger Jarlsgatan.
“We had guardian angels,” gym owner Per Althini told Expressen.
He explained how patrons and staff at the gym threw themselves to the ground as bullets came crashing through the gym’s windows.
“If the girl at the reception had been ten centimetres to the right, she would have been hit,” he said.
Fortunately, no one was using the treadmill or rowing machine located just inside the bullet-ridden window.
“When you stand here and look at all the bullet holes at such heights…if someone had been standing in the wrong place, it wouldn’t have been fun,” Althini told the newspaper.