Sunday 22 April 2018

UK village in lockdown as police hunt Elvis impersonator feared to be armed near primary school

Police used tear gas, pepper spray and foam projectiles to disperse the crowd
Police used tear gas, pepper spray and foam projectiles to disperse the crowd

A village is in lockdown as police marksmen hunted an Elvis impersonator feared to be armed and hiding close to a primary school.

Officers with Heckler & Koch assault rifles and body armour combed quiet country lanes and woodland in search of tree surgeon Derrel Weaver, aged 60.

Police said Mr Weaver was involved in a domestic incident last night and is known to have access to firearms.

However, they do not know if he is armed and have no indication he plans on using a weapon.

Responding to the potential threat, Devon and Cornwall Police flooded Widegates, Cornwall, with heavily armed officers.

A camouflage-wearing police sniper was among those drafted in to scour the village which is four miles from the popular Cornish holiday spot, Looe.

Locals counted 15 police cars, several dog units and a helicopter hovering above the tiny rural community which has a population of just 500.

The drama began at 9:30pm Thursday when police were called to a reports of a "domestic incident".

Officers spent the night searching for Mr Weaver, who lives at Higher Widlake Farm, Widegates, before ordering the closure of the nearby Trenode CofE Primary School as a precaution.

Superintendent Jim Pearce of Devon and Cornwall Police urged Mr Weaver to contact police urgently.

He said: "It's currently unclear whether Mr Weaver may be armed but this is a possibility as he is a licensed firearms holder.

"We would reassure Mr Weaver if he hears this, that police are not pre-judging any of his actions but we would like to speak to him as soon as possible.

We would ask the public to be vigilant at what is obviously a disturbing time for the local community.

"If any members of the public does see Mr Weaver we would ask for them to ring 999 and not to approach him.

"There is no suggestion at all that Mr Weaver is any risk to the public but we would like to locate him as soon as possible."

Supt Pearce said the primary school was closed after discussions with the headmaster.

He said: "This is purely a precautionary measure. We do not believe that any persons at that school or in fact any other school are at risk."

Mr Weaver is described by locals as a motorcycling enthusiast who collects high-end bikes and parts as well as jukeboxes and old records.

As a tree surgeon he is also believed to have a comprehensive knowledge of the local woods.

Friends have been trying to reach him via mobile phone without success.

John Wilson, who lives opposite Widlake Lane, said he and his wife were woken by the arrival of scores of police officers at about 4am.

He said: "Someone has a shotgun on the farm and now there's lots of police vans.

"I took the dog out and there were three or four police cars and a riot van and the police have guns.

"We do not normally have this sort of thing. If we see a police car in a week we're lucky."

Villager Ann Chudleigh, 67, added: "Derrel is a well-known Elvis impersonator and teaches art at the village hall where a small group has taken lessons from him for years.

"He collects authentic jukeboxes which he lends to the village for events and makes up recordings of music for local people."

Another neighbour, Rod Naylor, 41, added: "I heard a helicopter at about 2am.

"We don't really know what's going on. Nothing like this happens here so it's big news.

"It's a very rural area the police are searching so there's lots of hiding places."

Caroline Allen, 35, who has a four-year-old son at the closed school, said she received a text at around 7am informing parents they wouldn't be open.

She said: "The school texted us to say it was going to be closed due to a police incident but that's all we know at the moment.

"I would rather him be home and safe - we're just hoping they find the man soon. We saw around 12 armed policemen getting out of a van and going down to the area - it's quite shocking."

Sarah Field, 35, who has two children at the school - Stanley, four, and Ella, eight - added: "I received a text early this morning saying there was an ongoing police incident and the school was going to be shut.

"All we know at the moment is what we can see - a lot of police."

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