'They couldn't take any chances' - No arrests as Blanchardstown shopping centre evacuated amidst reports of 'armed' man
- Specialist gardai called after reports of armed man
- Shopping centre evacuated
- Sources say the garda response was necessary given the reports
- No arrests were made
Specialist gardai carried out a massive search operation at a west Dublin shopping centre yesterday evening after receiving reports of a man who they suspected was armed.
Members of the elite Emergency Response Unit (ERU) were called to the scene at the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, which was evacuated as they searched for the man.
Gardai received reports that a man, who they had been looking for, was sighted at the centre.
It was suspected that the individual had access to firearms.
He was sighted "on the periphery" of the shopping centre in a car park.
However, despite the significant operation, no arrests were made.
Detectives were last night attempting to verify the sighting, with sources saying the garda response was necessary given the reports.
"They couldn't take any chances," said a source.
"Armed gardai were needed because of the nature of this individual, who could have been armed.
"There was a credible sighting of this man."
The witness did not say that the man was running around with a gun in his possession, but gardai had information that he had access to firearms.
"The individual in question is believed to have armed himself after leaving his house," the source added.
No injuries occurred during the operation.
Members of the Armed Support Unit (ASU) and ERU were called to the centre shortly after 5pm.
Security officers evacuated the shopping centre and it remained closed to the public last night.
However, staff were allowed back in, once the area was secured, to collect any valuables that had been left behind during the evacuation.
Armed gardai covered all the exits leading into the shopping centre and patrolled around the centre as the search was being carried out.
As the operation was winding down, one officer brought out a ballistic shield, designed to stop or deflect bullets, and placed it into a garda vehicle.
One woman who was evacuated from the shopping centre described the panic among shoppers when armed gardai entered.
"A few armed guards ran by me, and I thought somebody might have robbed somewhere," she said.
"Then a security guard started shouting 'you have to leave, get out'. There was panic because people didn't know what was happening."
One member of staff told how she was in the middle of doing a woman's make-up when gardai ran in.
"I was halfway through and they started telling us to clear the place," she said. "There were a lot of rumours going around about a lad being armed with a gun, but I still don't know what it was about."