Armed police swooped on a Metro station in pursuit of a man ‘acting suspiciously’ - with the hunt to locate him still ongoing after several hours.
Shocked witnesses have described how armed police searched Chichester Metro Station as a hunt for a 'suspicious man' sparked a major emergency response.
Police received reports of a man acting suspiciously in Chichester Road, Chichester, South Shields, at about 11am today.
Police confirmed they were still in the area attempting to identify and locate the man at 3.30pm today.
Scores of patrol cars, and a force helicopter, were scrambled to the Chichester and Laygate areas to find him and the hunt is ongoing.
The man is described as 5ft 10ins tall, with grey hair and grey stubble. He was wearing a short tan-coloured jacket.
One person at the scene said: "Two armed police units stopped at Chichester Metro Station and went into the station.
"The police helicopter was in the area and police were crawling around the streets and going into the back lanes around Chichester Road."
Another onlooker said: "We saw a number of uniformed police patrols and armed police.
"They were wearing helmets and you could tell they were not just normal police.
"We could hear the police helicopter. It was very dramatic, but we had no idea who they were looking for.
An eyewitness from Laygate said: "There's doesn't seem to be a specific street they're looking in, there's cop cars tearing about everywhere, it's very chaotic
"The helicopter has been flying about for almost an hour too, they're desperate to find someone."
Another onlooker said: There is police all over Laygate. One person said they saw some officers with guns."
A motorist passing through the area at the time added; “I was driving past it as it was all happening.
“I saw all of the police vans, cars and a helicopter. There were about six armed police cars. There were also three panda cars and three police vans, as well as the helicopter.
“They were all driving up and down at a very high speed on the dual carriageway, going past Aldi towards the town centre and back again.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: "Police were called to Chichester Road at 11am this morning after reports were made of a man acting suspiciously.
"Officers are currently carrying out inquiries in the area."
Anyone with information should call Northumbria Police on 101.