- Armed police responded to reports of shots fired in central London.
- Hundreds of people fled amid scenes of panic.
- Police soon said they could find no evidence of an attack, and stood down.
- It is not clear what prompted the initial reports.
Armed police responded to reports of a shooting at a tube station in the centre of London, but later stood down, saying they had found no evidence that an attack had taken place.
Officers responded to “reports of shots fired on Oxford Street” and inside Oxford Circus tube station itself at around 4.40 p.m. on Friday afternoon, when thousands were commuting or shopping for Black Friday deals.
Police took the reports seriously, and implemented an initial response in line with a real terror attack.
But within an hour of the first call, the underground station had re-opened, and police were saying publicly they had not found any casualties, suspects or other evidence of gunfire.
- Sky News
We have not located any trace of suspects, evidence of shots fired or casualties. Officers still on scene. If you are in a building stay there, if you are on the street in #OxfordStreet leave the area. Officers continue to search the area. More updates as soon as we have them
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) November 24, 2017
It is not clear what caused the initial reports, which prompted mass panic and evacuations of three underground stations (Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road were also closed briefly) and major department stores.
Selfridges, one of London’s most famous shopping destinations, was barricaded shut while armed police searched the inside.
Video from the scene showed people running away:
— Dazzit (@DazZit) November 24, 2017
British Transport Police said that one woman had hurt herself leaving a station, but there was seemingly no other harm done.
A statement from the Metropolitan Police issued at 6.09 p.m. said that officers had “stood down.”
It added: “Given the nature of the information received, the Met responded in line with our existing operation as if the incident was terrorism, including the deployment of armed officers.”
Dominic Kwok, a witness who was nearby when the incident occurred, described the panic which swept the area in text messages to Business Insider.
He said: “Was in a coffee shop when it all went down. No idea what happened, just people running like crazy. And [we] barricaded ourselves in for a bit. Just people running and screaming.”