Saturday 17 February 2018

Reports of gunman sees parts of Belfast closed down

Deric Henderson

Armed police were called in to check out reports of a gunman being spotted by a member of the public in Belfast city centre today.

An area opposite the city's St Anne's Cathedral was sealed for over an hour as the PSNI's rapid response unit descended on the scene.

Bystanders were warned to keep out of the line of sight of a housing association building at Writer's Square and told to hide behind pillars or walls for their own safety.

An extensive cordon was put up at Donegall Street and a police helicopter hovered overhead throughout the alert.

The cordon has since been lifted and residents of the Shac-owned property have been allowed to return to their homes.

Danuta Czyan, 57, said it was a frightening experience. "The police would not let us in the building, we were confused about what happened. I didn't see anybody with a gun. Nobody knows what happened."

There were reports that a man was seen carrying a gun in a corridor on the fourth floor of the (Student Housing Accommodation) building.

Chris Donaghy, 30, lives on the second floor of the property. He said the experience was traumatic.

"We came off the elevator and were met by police searching everyone and taking details. Then the building was put into lock down.

"It is a bit disconcerting to step off the lift and be met with someone with a riot shield and another officer with an assault rifle. We usually only see council noise teams out," he said.

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