Police storm bowling alley in Nuneaton to bring hostage situation to an end

Ewen MacAskill and Mattha Busby

Police have stormed a bowling alley in Nuneaton where a gunman took two members of staff hostage on Sunday, bringing the incident to an end.

Warwickshire police said a man was arrested and no one was injured in the incident.

“At 2.30pm this afternoon Warwickshire police received reports of a man with a firearm in Nuneaton.

“Specialist firearms officers and police negotiators, along with fire, ambulance and police air services, attended the location at the bowling alley in St David’s Way, Bermuda Park.

“A man has been arrested and is in police custody.

“Members of public at the bowling alley and neighbouring properties were evacuated to safety and nobody was injured during the incident.”

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

Warwickshire police chief superintendent Alex Franklin-Smith said: “We would like to thank local people for their patience and cooperation 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.”

Mehdi Afshar, the chief executive of MFA Bowl, 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.”

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.

Armed police at the scene in Bermuda Park, Nuneaton. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

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

Afshar 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.”

An eyewitness at the retail park, Liz, a 53-year-old school office manager who did not give her surname, had told the Guardian: “The gunman appears to be pushing a hostage to the door with a gun to his head to collect paperwork from police negotiators who are trying to negotiate with them.

“We’d only been in Frankie & Benny’s [restaurant] five minutes when it kicked off and police told us to stay put. Within minutes we were surrounded.

“Armed police are on every corner and we’re all safe. It’s just not pleasant and someone might get hurt.”

Another eyewitness, 16-year-old student Eden James, said: “We just came to go to the cinema and were told we weren’t allowed in and that they were evacuating because someone’s got a shotgun in the bowling alley.

“The gunman has taken the manager and a boy hostage. The boy, who is tall, broad and is wearing a black T-shirt, keeps coming in and out to negotiate with the police [on behalf of the gunman]. But we’re not sure what his demands are because the police won’t let us close enough.

“There’s around 30 police cars, police dogs and a helicopter so it seems to be under control.

“The mood here is pretty cheerful because everyone who was in the car park has been given hospitality from Frankie and Benny’s.”

Sarah Fleming, a witness in a restaurant at the retail park, told Sky News reports of the incident had started to come through at about 3.30pm and she had been told the man was armed. “Police have advised us that there is a man with a shotgun and he does have hostages,” she said. “Everyone’s a little bit scared.”