Police: shooting incident only narrowly avoided
Two men with a fake rifle could have been shot by armed police, senior officers warned today.
Detective Superintendent Nicholas Pedro said a tragedy was only avoided because of the high training standards and professionalism of firearms officers.
Mr Pedro was speaking after two men were seen on a motorbike with what appeared to be an assault rifle yesterday afternoon.
Armed officers were called to the scene on Cavendish Road, Pembroke, and the suspects were arrested.
The imitation assault rifle was also seized.
Mr Pedro showed the imitation laser tag-type rifle alongside a police-issue M4 carbine.
He said: “As you can see, there are few differences that would allow someone at distance, or possibly in worse lighting conditions to distinguish the difference.”
Mr Pedro would not discuss details of yesterday’s incident but confirmed that two men were in custody.
He added that, when the arrest was made, both men were on a motorcycle, with the passenger holding the replica weapon.
They were also “geared up”, wearing dark clothing and masks to hide their identities.
Mr Pedro said armed officers were confronted with a situation that was typical of many real firearms incidents.
He added: “Our officers are trained to the highest standards, but in these kinds of scenarios, officers must make split second decisions based upon very fast risk assessments.
“They were confronted with persons on a motorcycle carrying this weapon.
“They had to make a quick and fast risk assessment as to what they should and could do.
“They obviously made the right decision – thankfully – but that does not come without its challenges.”
Mr Pedro warned: “The carriage of such an item in public without requisite permits, or permissions, puts people at risk, whether this be from members of the community who perceive a threat, or police officers who have to make split second decisions on whether or not someone’s life is at risk, including their own.”
The incident came a month after images of what appeared to be armed police at Hamilton’s City Hall circulated on social media.
But a police spokesman said it was “not a police exercise and there was no involvement by the BPS or any of its officers”.
He added the image appeared to have been captured during filming for a on-island production – and that the makers risked falling foul of the law.
Mr Pedro said: “Yesterday’s incident – and the one previously at City Hall – has the potential to put people at very real risk and we simply urge everyone to apply common sense before going armed in public where there are very real concerns around firearms, and strong legislation preventing possession of firearms, and imitations.
“Nothing we are saying today should take away from any person’s right to engage in creative and artistic endeavours, but the reality is that the Firearms Act can, and does make possession of imitation firearms an offence under certain circumstances.”
Police have appealed for witnesses or anyone with information on yesterday’s incident to contact them.