Saturday 21 October 2017

Man arrested as 50 children threatened with fake shotgun

Eoghan MacConnell

GARDAI are questioning a man suspected of waving an imitation shotgun and setting off fireworks at a youth centre.

Up to 50 children and staff at St Mary’s Youth Centre in Tullamore, Co Offaly, were left shaken by the incident which occurred about 9pm last night.

The youngsters, mainly in the early teens, were getting ready to leave when they saw a man approach with what appeared to be a firearm.

He is understood to have been wearing army clothing and carrying an imitation shotgun.

St Mary’s Youth Centre Manager, Bill O’Hanlon said the children were gathering outside to leave.

“It would have been time for them to go home, it would have been the children who saw him first,” he explained.

Once alerted, staff immediately called the children inside, locked the doors and alerted gardaí.

“The main thing was to get them to a safe spot,” said Mr O’Hanlon.

“It was scary times for them last night, the staff here were terrified. As it happened it wasn’t a real firearm,” Mr O’Hanlon revealed.

A garda spokesman said one man was arrested outside the youth centre at 9.03pm. A suspected imitation firearm was recovered and will be sent for examination.

According to gardaí, some of the children were crying and badly shaken by the incident.

The man, a foreign national, is being detained at Tullamore Garda Station under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

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