University of Ulster filmmakers mistaken for armed gang by cops
A PSNI rapid response team was tasked to what was believed to be an armed robbery in the seaside town of Porstewart on Wednesday - only to find that it was group of students making a film!
A passer-by allegedly raised the alarm when they thought that they were witnessing an armed robbery at the fast food takeaway.
Police arrived on the scene in minutes, and told the man carrying the dummy gun to put his weapon on the ground before realising that the group were, in fact, media studies students from the University of Ulster making a film.
It was later revealed that the students were previously granted permission by Coleraine Borough Council as well as the owner of the takeaway business to make the film there.
A PSNI spokeswoman said: "Police responded quickly to the report, arriving on scene within six minutes.
“Attending officers witnessed a man wearing a balaclava and brandishing a handgun inside the premises.
“Officers approached and the man was ordered to put the [dummy] weapon on the ground.
“It subsequently transpired that the scenario had been staged by some local students and the situation was quickly de-escalated."
She added: “The call from the member of the public was genuine and made in good faith, believing that an armed robbery was taking place.
“The officers involved responded professionally and appropriately, as I would expect them to, given that this was a report of armed robbery with the potential risk to life and property such a report implies. Their focus was, as always, keeping people safe.
“I have been in touch with the university today and hope to have an informal chat with some of the students involved later this week.”
President of the UU Coleraine student union, Mark Bell, told a local radio station: "They [the film students] informed me that when they were speaking to the council they asked what other statutory bodies needed to be notified and they weren't given any additional people to contact about it.
"The students in question are traumatised from the incident and are trying to get on and complete this media project."
He added: "Ultimately, when the police officers became involved, I think they saw what they believed to be a legitimate situation and they responded appropriately to a very unfortunate mix up.
"As soon as the students became aware and saw the armed response officers, and they realised what had happened, they dropped the [dummy] weapon immediately and put their hands up."