Gunman who held two hostage in English bowling alley arrested

Police storm building as two employees unharmed after incident in Nuneaton

Police at the scene at Bermuda Park in Nuneaton where they are dealing with an ongoing incident. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Police at the scene at Bermuda Park in Nuneaton where they are dealing with an ongoing incident. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

 

British police have stormed a bowling alley in central England where a gunman took two members of staff hostage on Sunday, bringing the incident to an end. Mehdi Afshar, the chief executive of MFA Bowl in Nuneaton, said that the gunman had been arrested around three hours after the incident began.

He praised the police’s response. “I have been told by our operations director that the police have stormed the building and the individual has been arrested,” he told the BBC.

“A big thank you to the police who do a fantastic marvellous job. I am very relieved.”

Shortly after 6.30pm a series of loud bangs could be heard and about 10 minutes later an ambulance was allowed through the cordon and two people got out.

The suspect was treated at the scene and taken to hospital, while two other men were uninjured, West Midlands Ambulance Service said.

Chris Clegg, operations director of MFA Bowl, said the suspect was handcuffed and the two employees were checked over for shock.

He said: “Two people were taken to a safe place, obviously they were checked over because obviously they might be in shock.

“It’s obviously not an everyday situation. The ambulance, police were all checking them and making sure they were OK.”

Warwickshire Police said specialist firearms officers and police negotiators, along with other emergency services attended the scene at 2.30pm on Sunday. The force announced shortly after 7pm that the suspect had been arrested. Chief Supt Alex Franklin-Smith said: “We would like to thank local people for their patience and co-operation while officers dealt with this incident. “We are pleased that we were able to bring this incident to a peaceful resolution and that there were no injuries.”

Police at the scene where a gunman was holding two bowling alley members of staff hostage and has now been arrested. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Police at the scene where a gunman was holding two bowling alley members of staff hostage and has now been arrested. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Unconnected to terrorism

Earlier, Warwickshire police’s Twitter account had warned people to stay away from the retail park in Nuneaton as reports of a hostage incident emerged. A number of police cars were pictured on the scene.

The West Midlands ambulance service said there had been no reported casualties.

An update posted later on the police force’s Facebook page told residents the incident was “unconnected to any terrorist activity”.

Mr Amshar had told Sky: “We understand that there is a gunman in the place and he is holding two of our staff as hostage.”

He said there had been no contact with the two members of staff, adding: “All our staff, the rest of our staff, are safe and they made sure that all the customers have left the premises so everybody is in safety, with the exception of the two people who we know are missing, and we assume that they are the two that are still inside the premises because the manageress has done the check but those two people are not accounted for.”

Emergency services near Bermuda Park in Nuneaton where police are dealing with an ongoing incident. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Emergency services near Bermuda Park in Nuneaton where police are dealing with an ongoing incident. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

‘Game over’

The gunman had brandished his weapon above his head and yelled “game over” after arriving at the bowling alley, one witness said.

Alex Moore-Holland told Sky News: “We were just having a game ... and a man who was also bowling ran across our lane and he was like ‘get out, get out’, shouting.

“I was like ‘What’s going on?’ so I turn around and there was a white guy, greyish beard, weird-looking man, he’s got a gun up here, like this over his head.

“He was saying ‘game over, game over’, everyone shouting, screaming, panicking, trying to get out and I didn’t know what to make of it, really. “I ran, got my things as quickly as I could and get out of there.”

Asked about the man’s weapon, his friend Liam Roberts said: “It was a shotgun, a long-looking thing. “I thought it was like a sword or a big knife but the second time when he came out near the door about 10 minutes after, this was to try and scare people, we knew it was a shotgun.”

Around 40 or 50 people, including children, were inside the complex at the time.

“There was probably about 20 kids, crying, that were trying to get out — about five people at a time trying to get through a door.” They speculated that the hostage taker was trying to clear the building of people at first.

Mr Roberts said: “I think he was trying to make people scared, to know he was there.”

Asked if the gunman is known to staff at the bowling alley, MrAfshar said: “We believe from what my manageress tells me that he is an ex-husband or a boyfriend of a member of staff. That is what I know, I can’t confirm that for definite.”

He said there had been no contact with the two members of staff, adding: “All our staff, the rest of our staff, are safe and they made sure that all the customers have left the premises so everybody is in safety, with the exception of the two people who are, we know that are missing and we assume that they are the two that are still inside the premises because the manageress has done the check but those two people are not accounted for.”

The gunman was described by one witness in the bowling alley as an unshaven man in his forties, who was “basically shouting and had a very aggressive demeanour about him”.

Lawrence Hallett, who had been at a family children’s party at the alley, told Sky News: “One of the staff came up to us and quietly whispered in my ear to leave and I initially thought it was a fire alarm or something like that and I said ‘What’s the problem? We are halfway through a game’ and he said ‘There is a gunman’. “I looked up and there was a guy, probably 20 or 30 feet away, walking towards us with a sawn-off shotgun sort of slung over his shoulder, if you like. “I thought it was a joke and panicked a little bit and shouted ‘everyone get out’, and basically ran, hell for leather, out of the building.