Drama as armed police lay siege to suburban house
Shocked neighbours have told how the tranquillity of an upmarket Coleraine suburb was shattered when heavily-armed police laid siege to a house before a man was arrested on suspicion of possessing a weapon.
An armed response police team was called to Knockantern Grove in the leafy Mountsandel district as the drama unfolded at around 1.30pm yesterday and lasted for around four hours.
Residents were warned by officers to stay at the back of their homes and away from windows.
PSNI Chief Inspector Ian Magee said later that police had arrested a 43-year-old man on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence and assault on police.
"He is currently in police custody. I would like to thank the local community for their patience and support during this incident," he said last night.
The man is understood to work as a driver and is married with three young children.
There were no reports of anybody else in the house, and no one is believed to have been injured.
After police left, there was no sign of the earlier events at the bungalow where a black BMW off-road vehicle was parked in the driveway and a child's toy lay in the garden.
Previously, armour-wearing specialist police from the PSNI's Armed Response Unit could be seen with powerful high-calibre weapons trained on the dwelling as they crouched in the alcoves of nearby homes and used garden bushes for cover.
A paramedic had been on standby as officers used shields to approach the house and negotiated with a man inside using a loudhailer.
Neighbours reported hearing an "almighty thump" which they believed was a door being forced open at the property.
A man was led away from the scene by officers at around 5.30pm.
One neighbour said: "It all started around 1.30pm when a number of police vehicles flew into the park. We were told to stay at the rear of our houses. It was very scary. This is a very quiet area."
People returning home from work were unable to get to their houses. Resident Louisa Gray (70) added: "This is very surprising. I didn't expect to come home and find the place cordoned off."
One neighbour watched it all from her living room.
She said: "When I arrived home I was stopped by police and they told me to go to the back of the house. I was told by my cleaner that at the start of it all, three police officers were behind a police car with their revolvers drawn pointing at the house over the top of the vehicle. That was about 2pm.
"Another two police were round the back of a wall.
"We were looking out through the blinds and then heavily-armed police wearing helmets arrived and they used shields to move towards the back of the house. They used a loudspeaker. They were asking the man in the house to let them know if he was OK.
"Then I heard an almighty thump. At first I feared somebody was shot but apparently it was the door being forced in. Then we saw a man being led away from the house by police. He was handcuffed and he seemed to be shouting and they were telling him to calm down.
"Nobody can believe what has happened. Police told us it was a very serious incident. Thankfully nobody was hurt and we are glad it ended peacefully."