Sunderland families evacuated as armed police hunt suspected knifeman

Police officers outside flats in Shoreham Square, Sunderland.

Police officers outside flats in Shoreham Square, Sunderland.

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Families were evacuated from their homes as armed police swooped on a Sunderland cul-de-sac looking for a suspected knifeman.

Three people were arrested while residents in surrounding streets were put under lockdown.

Witnesses described armed police pointing guns at an upstairs flat in Shoreham Square, Springwell, before the door was battered down and a man and woman emerged from the property.

Others told the Echo another man was arrested at another address in the same street, while a car was also searched.

Gardens were also searched by dogs, with a police helicopter flying overhead during the drama, which happened in the early hours of this morning.

Police had earlier gone to Pennywell on Wednesday night to investigate reports of a man seen with a knife, before being told he had headed to Shoreham Square.

They said houses were evacuated after concerns the man had been seen with other weapons.

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “Police were called to an address in Portslade Road at 9.59pm following concerns raised after a man was seen with a knife.

“Officers attended, but the man had left in a vehicle driven by another man, and gone to two other addresses in Shoreham Square.

“Following concerns that he was seen with other weapons, officers attended these addresses and, as a precaution, nearby homes were evacuated.

“Following inquiries three people were arrested in connection with the incident. Two men, aged 29 and 30, and a woman, aged 19. All three remain in custody.”

Police were still in the street until yesterday afternoon as residents spoke of their shock .

One 37-year-old mum-of-three said: “It’s been quite scary and there’s been a lot of commotion.”

“There was a lot of shouting for individuals to come out, but there was no reply and after sometime they decided to try the back door and then they tried the big ram.”

One 44-year-old dad-of-two was in his back garden when he heard police.

“I just saw a lot of lights and I could hear somebody shouting ‘get your hands above your head’, it must have been said six or seven times,” said the man.

“When I saw all the coppers, I nearly died. It’s unbelievable what’s gone on.

Another 47-year-old resident added: “I came to the door and saw the police and they told me to get back in.”

A 40-year-old man living in nearby Saltburn Square said he was told by police that he had to stay indoors for his own safety.

“We weren’t allowed out of the street. I asked a police officer why, and she said ‘it’s not safe’. She said ‘go back inside and please remain inside’.

“There was armed police. They had the full kit on, automatic rifles and shields and things.”