A YOUTH club was forced to go into lockdown after a parent was confronted by a man who claimed to have a gun.
The mum had collected her two children from the Youth Almighty Project, at Silksworth Community Centre, on Thursday night and was heading along Tunstall Village Road, towards Ryhope, when she saw a man acting suspiciously.
On getting closer to the man, who was only 10 metres from the entrance to the youth centre, he told the woman and her children to stay away because he had a gun and was going to shoot someone.
The mum and her kids ran back into Youth Almighty, where workers called Northumbria Police.
An armed response unit was scrambled while the youth club – which had youngsters aged from eight to 19 inside – was put on lockdown as a precaution with bosses putting down shutters and locking the doors.
Officers stressed nobody had actually been seen with a gun.
Silksworth ward councillor Philip Tye, who volunteers at the youth project, was at the centre when the scare happened.
He told the Echo: “I was just about to leave for the night when the woman came running in with her children.
“You could see it in her face how frightened she was and when she told us what had happened outside, we called the police straight away.”
“We felt it the best thing to do was pull down the shutters,” added Coun Tye.
“We didn’t want to take any risks because the kids were horrified. They were petrified at what they thought might happen.”
CCTV footage is now being examined by detectives to find the person responsible.
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “At just after 8pm on Thursday, November 7, police received a report from a member of the public that a man had claimed to be carrying a gun on Tunstall Village Road, Sunderland.
“Officers attended the scene and carried out a search of the area to identify and locate the man described who had left the scene. Inquiries are continuing.
“The man is described as white, 5ft 6ins to 5ft 9ins tall, medium build, with dark hair.
“He spoke with a local accent and was wearing grey jogging bottoms and a mustard-coloured coat.”
Chief Inspector Jerry Pearson, from Sunderland Area Command, added: “Our inquiries are continuing today to locate this individual.
“It’s important to note that at no point was a firearm actually seen by anyone, the man described just claimed to be carrying one.
“I’d also like to reassure residents that we have officers in the area and anyone with concerns should speak to them.”
Anyone with information on the incident should call police on 101, extension 69191.