A jewelry store at the Pick n Pay centre in Steeldale was smashed up by four men who took off with an undisclosed amount of jewelry on Wednesday afternoon. Picture: Timothy Bernard 05.12.2012

Johannesburg - A metro cop was shot and injured by a gang of thugs as they sped along the N12.

Metro police suspect a link between an earlier Steeledale robbery and the shoot-out.

A witness said five armed but unmasked men had attacked the Westray Jewellers store in Steeledale shopping centre just after midday yesterday.

The men shattered the glass tops of the counters with the butts of their guns, making off with an unknown amount of jewellery.

A shoot-out ensued as the robbers fled, leaving a trail of bullets around the exit of the mall.

About 20 R5 rifle rounds were found by crime scene investigators as well as several pistol rounds.

Four cars were damaged in the chaos, but nobody was injured. The gang escaped in a station wagon.

About 15km away, recklessly driving along the N12 west towards the Diepkloof interchange, they were chased by two metro officers.

Joburg metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said two officers in a Golf GTi patrol car noticed a blue Subaru being recklessly driven on the N12 and decided to follow.

“When they caught up with the Subaru, they signalled for the driver to pull off and he did.

“The Subaru occupants then jumped out and opened fire on the metro police vehicle, hitting one officer three times on the shoulder while another bullet caught him on the neck,” Minnaar said.

“[The] officers decided to reverse so that they could take cover… The suspects jumped back into the Subaru and fled.”

Minnaar said the wounded officer, Dante Boswell, had been driving the metro police patrol car.

He said Boswell was rushed to hospital, where he was in a serious but stable condition last night.

“It shows that the suspects were heavily armed because 14 shells of R5, AK-47 and 9mm hand guns were found at the scene.”

On Wednesday afternoon, traffic was backed up from Southgate mall to the Aerodrome Road bridge as police cordoned off the far-right lane.

The officer’s car had a single bullet hole through its windscreen but no other observable damage.

About 200m away, 14 orange cones behind the police tape marked the spots of spent rounds.

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The Star