THESE dramatic images show the moment armed police swarmed around a suspect believed to be brandishing a gun at Exeter Quay.
Stunned onlookers witnessed at least half a dozen firearms officers hone in on a man after a member of the public said they saw him brandishing the weapon.
Eyewitnesses saw a man, who was bare-chested and lying on the ground on a patch of grass close to the pedestrian footbridge near Haven Banks, surrounded by officers.
They trained their weapons on the suspect and eventually detained him after a lengthy standoff.
He was then taken away by police van. No one else was involved in the incident.
The operation, which lasted for almost an hour, was carried out as large numbers of people were enjoying the sunshine at the quay.
No one was hurt in the incident but as our exclusive pictures show, the whole operation was conducted just a few yards from a busy children’s play area.
One member of the public who witnessed the incident said: “No-one was hurt, no one got shot at, therefore the operation was handled and executed well.
“It’s the sort of incident that happens once in a blue moon around here.”
Emergency services received the call from a member of the public that a man was in possession of a firearm shortly after 4pm.
Armed officers were deployed to the scene and the public were cleared from the area.
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Our role was to contain the scene and clear members of the public away from it.
“The armed response was authorised at 4.30pm and a negotiator was also called. The stand-off lasted for around an hour trying to get him to surrender. He was eventually arrested at 5.25pm.”
A man has since been charged with possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear and violence.
Another eyewitness said: “There were lots of armed police and people looking on.
“Someone was on the ground and the police were pointing weapons.
“The armed police appeared no more than 15 yards away from a busy children’s play area.”
Earlier in the afternoon Prince Edward had formally opened the nearby multi-million pound Haven Banks activity centre.
There is no indication the two events were linked in any way.
Marc Carpenter, 33, of Clarence Road, St Thomas, Exeter, was due to appear at Exeter Magistrates Court in connection with the incident as the Echo went to press.
He has been charged with possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear and violence.