Armed police were deployed to arrest a man reportedly seen walking around London’s Canary Wharf financial district with a shotgun, according to various media reports today.
Canary Wharf Group took to Twitter to deny reports, including rumours spread by Metropolitan Police public relations employees, that the man was carrying an actual firearm:
Reports of man with firearm at Canary Wharf are incorrect. Man was carrying non lethal Airsoft hobby equipment.
— Canary Wharf Group (@CanaryWharfGrp) November 7, 2015
Local newspaper The Wharf carried unconfirmed eyewitness reports that the man was in fancy dress.
An official statement from the Met said: “Police were called at 2.15pm. A person reported seeing a man in possession of a firearm in the Canary Wharf area. Armed officers attended the scene. A man has been arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm. The incident has been stood down.”
A later police statement said a 29-yr-old man was arrested at West India Quay station on suspicion of possession of a firearm just before 3pm today. He was taken to an east London police station.
“While we await analysis of the weapon recovered, it is believed to be an air rifle,” concluded the statement.
The Metro newspaper’s website reported an unverified rumour, seemingly started by a Daily Mirror reporter on Twitter, that the man was linked to an armed robbery in the West India Quay area. The area near the station includes a shopping centre, various quayside restaurants and a cinema complex.
Panicky members of the public may well have called the police after seeing a man in fancy dress with an airsoft gun. While not a firearm, an airsoft gun would count as an imitation firearm – and, legally, certainly is an airgun.
Given the circumstances, the unfortunate – if silly – man will probably find himself on bail through Christmas and the New Year, as a means of extrajudicial punishment, until charges are quietly dropped sometime in 2016.