Armed cops surround innocent young men in car at Taunton McDonald's

Joel Thorogood, whose car was surrounded by armed police. Picture: Joel Thorogood
Joel Thorogood, whose car was surrounded by armed police. Picture: Joel Thorogood

TWO terrified young men at the McDonald's drive-through in Taunton were surrounded by several armed police officers and ordered out of their car at gunpoint.

The dramatic incident, believed to have lasted around 20 minutes, unfolded following incorrect intelligence suggesting a gun had been spotted in the vehicle.

The driver, Joel Thorogood, 21, who lives in Sherford, said he was "shocked and scared" during the incident on Monday evening (December 4).

"I'd just turned into the McDonald's car park at Hankridge when all of a sudden we were boxed in by five armed response vehicles and 10 or 12 armed officers surrounded the car with guns drawn and pointed directly at me and my passenger," said Joel, a supervisor in the construction industry.

"They were screaming at us to get out of the car, walk towards them with our hands on our heads and get on the ground.

"I was down on my knees and they cuffed me, which hurt as I have an injured hand.

"When they saw we didn't have any guns on us, they pulled the car apart before telling us we were free to go as they hadn't found a weapon.

"We were shocked and scared. I was afraid they would shoot me if I made a false move. My passenger was in quite a bad way. It was terrifying."

Joel, who said he has never been in trouble with the law, and his passenger then picked up a drink from McDonald's and drove off.

He added: "The police said they had intel we had a gun. I have no idea where that came from.

"It was all very scary and was a relief when it was all over, but I'm thinking of putting in a complaint."

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said: "We were called shortly before 9.30pm on Monday (4 December) to a report that a gun had been spotted in a car in Dellers Wharf, Taunton.

"After stopping the vehicle in Hankridge Farm and carrying out a search, police firearms officers found a claw hammer and no gun.

"No further action was taken and we'd like to thank those involved for their understanding while we followed up on the information reported to us.

"We take every reported incident involving a firearm extremely seriously, but we appreciate that being stopped by armed officers can be an unnerving experience."