ARMED police were called to carry out a dramatic swoop after a man was spotted sitting next to a gun in a busy street.
Officers were sent to Victoria Road South in Southsea, near Albert Road, following reports that he was sat with a firearm in broad daylight.
But it turned out to be a BB gun.
Police shut the road between Albert Road and St Vincent Road for about 40 minutes and cleared the area while they worked.
Eyewitnesses say the suspect was pinned to the floor by police outside Merton Court flats.
The 23-year-old Southsea man was arrested by officers from Southsea’s Targeted Patrol Team – which handles emergency responses – about 20 minutes after the 999 call, which took place at shortly before 4pm today.
The suspect was taken to Portsmouth Central police station for questioning where he is still in custody.
Officers also seized a BB gun from the scene – it is not yet clear where the gun was found.
No shots were fired and no-one was hurt or threatened, police said.
Shocked housewife Julie Rusby, 49, from Victoria Road South, said: ‘I had a phone call from my son and nephew who asked me what was going on outside my house so I had a look and saw police officers hiding behind a BT Openreach van.
‘Another few policemen had guns.
She added: ‘I didn’t know what was going on. I saw them run down the road. I asked the neighbours what was going on but no-one knew. I saw the road was closed and then police chased down a man in a red top and it was all over.’
University of Portsmouth student Jasmine Christmas, 20, also lives in Victoria Road South. She said: ‘I just heard sirens and didn’t look out [of] the window because we hear them all the time, but it’s quite terrifying to know there was a gunman.
There’s never been anything that serious here before.
Acting Inspector Wendie Douglas of Portsmouth’s Targeted Patrol Teams said: ‘I would like to thank local residents for their co-operation during our enquiries. They understood why we had to close roads temporarily, and assisted with our requests, which made the situation easier to resolve swiftly.
‘Although our investigation is ongoing at the moment, I would like to take this opportunity to remind people about the risks of carrying imitation firearms in public. It’s difficult, even for firearms experts, to distinguish between a fake gun and a real weapon from a distance.
‘Each call to police reporting a firearm being seen prompts the same response involving armed officers.
‘Often, it’s only once the gun is retrieved that officers are able to confirm it is an imitation or BB gun. Imitation firearms and BB guns may seem like harmless fun, but by carrying one, you are putting yourself at risk. Our message is very simple: Just don’t do it.
‘We are fortunate not to have a serious problem with gun crime in Hampshire, but we are never complacent in wanting to educate the public so a potential tragedy can be prevented thanks to better awareness of the risks.
Did you see the incident? Do you have pictures of what was going on? Call the Newsdesk on 023 92 622118.