Warning about imitation weapons in North Yorkshire
12:46pm 24th January 2012
North Yorkshire Police have issued a warning about carrying imitation weapons after an incident in York sparked a firearms operation.
At around 4.05pm on Monday 25 January 2012, a member of the public spotted two smartly dressed men sitting in the window of the Red Chilli restaurant on George Hudson Street with a silver handgun on the table in front of them.
The man, who was taken aback by what he had seen, retraced his steps to double check before contacting the police.
Plain clothes officers were quickly on the scene and saw the men leave the restaurant and get in to a Silver Volkswagen Polo, which was driven by a third man.
The vehicle left George Hudson Street towards Station Rise and down Leeman Road followed by two unmarked police cars.
Officers continued to track the vehicle containing the three men to Water End and then along Boroughbridge Road towards the A59, as they waited for support from an armed response unit.
As the Polo reached Kirk Hammerton officers took the chance to stop it safely without putting any members of the public at risk.
The three men were arrested at gunpoint and police recovered what turned out to be an imitation .44 Magnum hand gun from the passenger foot well of the car along with six rounds of ammunition.
The men had bought the gun from a shop in York earlier that day.
They were taken into police custody for questioning and were later released. An 18-year-old man was cautioned for possessing an air weapon in a public place and a 17-year-old was given a youth reprimand for the same offence.
A 31-year-old man was released without further action.
Police are urging people not to carry imitation firearms in public as officers have to provide a firearms response in case it is a real weapon.
Inspector Allan Wescott, of York police, said:
“Although there was no real danger to the public in this instance, it is very easy for things to turn out much differently because often these imitation weapons look almost identical to the real thing.
“If a firearms officer feels there is any threat to themselves or a member of the public then decisive action must be taken to alleviate that threat. This means that if you are carrying a weapon, real or not, you are putting yourself in very real danger.
“The police have a duty to protect the public and if anyone is seen carrying what looks like an offensive weapon officers will act quickly and decisively.
“I hope this incident will make people realise that it is irresponsible and highly dangerous to possess an imitation firearm in a public place.”
“I would like to thank the man who bought this incident to our attention and the police officers involved who conducted a very professional operation.”
Image of the imitation weapon:
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