IT was the moment that shocked an entire community.

It started out as any other Thursday in Chandler’s Ford. People were on their way to work, shoppers were going about their morning routines.

Just after 10am as a Group 4 security van pulled into a parking bay outside the HSBC bank in the Central Precinct on a routine visit.

But as the driver stepped out of his vehicle, out of nowhere a man ran towards him pointing a gun at his head.

The gunman was Mark Nunes, ringleader of a gang of criminals who had netted more than £500,000 by targeting 18 security vans in as many months.

Little did Nunes know, however, that lying in wait were armed police officers from Hampshire and the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad who had been tracking the gang.

A surveillance team were filming from a point opposite the bank while police marksmen had taken up their positions.

Other armed officers were poised in a nearby public toilet block.

As Nunes held the gun to the security man’s head, the order to fire was given and the sound of gunfire echoed around the quiet shopping precinct.

In one shot Nunes – the mastermind of the robbery – was cut down by the marksman’s bullet.

Gang member Andrew Markland then rushed to where Nunes lay and tried to pick up his weapon.

With pinpoint accuracy, a police marksman took him down in a single shot.

It was the moment an 18-month crime spree was brought to a dramatic end.

The shooting provoked a massive response from Hampshire’s emergency services.

Teams of officers from the county’s specialist operations unit based at Netley – including firearms teams and armed response vehicles – also responded.

Scores of residents and shoppers gathered at Chandler’s Ford rail station eager to know what was going on.

At 9am Bournemouth Road had been choked with busy morning traffic as parents took their children to school and people made their way to work.

It was just an hour later local residents and terrified shop workers watched on in horror as paramedics tried to revive the bloodsoaked bodies of Nunes and Markland.

Hampshire Air Ambulance was deployed but it was all to be in vain – Nunes was pronounced dead at the scene and Markland died on the way to Southampton General Hospital.

Hursley Road and Winchester Road were shut off as searches were carried out over a 150-metre radius of the scene.

Yesterday the remaining gang members – Terence Wallace, 26, Adrian Johnson, 28, Leroy Wilkinson, 29, and Victor Iniodu, 34, all from south London – were found guilty of conspiracy to rob following a month-long trial at Kingston Crown Court.

The court heard the gang had previously carried out raids in Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Bath, Cambridgeshire, Hamp-shire, Reading, Ipswich and Gloucester-shire between April 2006 and September 2007.

Three other men – Leroy Hall, Leon McKenzie and Brian Henry – pleaded guilty to being part of Nunes’ gang before the trial began.

The whole gang will be sentenced on October 31 at Kingston Crown Court – and could each face up to 20 years behind bars.

Sandra Gidley, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said: “In terms of the trial, justice has been seen to have been done.

“I know a lot of my constituents will be pleased with the outcome of the trial and that the remaining gang members are behind bars.

“I am now awaiting the release of the report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.”

A senior Scotand Yard police officer yesterday described the death of the two robbers as “deeply regrettable”.

Det Insp Terry Wilson, of the Flying Squad, said: “We are a bespoke unit targeting those who commit these types of crimes. The fact we exist, along with today’s convictions, should serve as a warning to all those who would consider committing such an offence.

“The fact that the majority of the offences have taken place outside of London did not limit our ability to investigate.

“Many of the defendants convicted had previously come to the attention of the Flying Squad and as a result chose to operate outside of London in an attempt to avoid attention.

“We have excellent working relationships with other forces and this partnership allowed us to pursue Nunes and his team across southern England.”

He added: “'I would also like the public to note that although these offences may be seen as victimless crimes, the truth is far from it.

“These offences not only left many of the guards traumatised, but also would have an impact on the people whose homes were burgled to steal the cars the robbers used.”