Police quiz suspected hostage-taker after bowling alley gun siege

Detectives are questioning a suspected hostage-taker as they try to establish why two men were held at gun point in a four-hour bowling alley siege.

The bearded suspect is alleged to have walked into MFA Bowl in Bermuda Park, Nuneaton, and brandished a sawn-off shotgun at terrified customers.

Having taken a lane host and duty manager as captives, the man then became locked in a prolonged stand-off with armed police at the Warwickshire retail park.

He was arrested when officers made a daring swoop on the building under the cover of flash bangs, freeing both hostages unharmed on Sunday evening.

Chief executive of MFA Bowl Mehdi Afshar said he had been informed the man, who was described as middle-aged, could be the ex-partner of a staff member.

Witnesses inside the bowling alley said they were first alerted to the danger when panic began to unfold at around 2.30pm.

Thomas Hitchens, a fast food manager from Nuneaton, was bowling with his family - a party of 12.

The 28-year-old said: "Everyone was running out, and we were literally the last family left in there. As I turned around, he was stood there with this sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun. He just shouted at us 'get out - now'."

Nuneaton hostage drama timeline
(PA Graphics)

Mr Hitchens believed he parked his car right next to the man's vehicle, recognising him later as the person he then saw inside.

He said: "He shouted, 'it'll be fine - I won't hurt the kids'."

The retail park, which also houses restaurants and a cinema, was evacuated during the incident, which police confirmed was not terror-related.

Police at the scene at Bermuda Park in Nuneaton
Police at the scene at Bermuda Park in Nuneaton (Aaron Chown/PA)

Another witness inside the bowling alley described how the "weird-looking" gunman had brandished his weapon above his head at the start of the ordeal.

Alex Mulholland said: "We were just having a game of bowling and a man who was also bowling ran across our lane and he was like 'get out, get out', shouting.

"I was like 'what's going on?' so I turn around and there was a white guy, greyish beard, weird-looking man, he's got a gun up here, like this over his head.

He was saying 'game over, game over', everyone shouting, screaming, panicking, trying to get out and I didn't know what to make of it, really.

"I ran, got my things as quickly as I could and get out of there."

A car is removed from Bermuda Park in Nuneaton
A car is removed from Bermuda Park in Nuneaton (Aaron Chown/PA)

Warwickshire Police said specialist firearms officers and police negotiators, along with other emergency services attended the scene at 2.30pm on Sunday.

Great work on the ground today by @warkspolice and @OFFICIALWMAS to resolve difficult situation in #Nuneaton. Teamwork at its best.

-- Warwickshire PCC (@WarwickshirePCC) October 22, 2017

The force announced shortly after 7pm that the suspect had been arrested.

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