UK

Oxford Circus Incident: Police Stand Down Terror-Style Response After Reports Of Shooting Spark Mass Panic

Incident at Oxford Circus Tube that sparked mass evacuation caused by 'altercation' between two men.

24/11/2017 17:05 GMT | Updated 24/11/2017 23:52 GMT

Oxford Circus Tube station was evacuated on Friday evening amidst chaotic scenes after police were alerted to “a number of reports of shots fired”.

Met Police including armed officers responded “as if [it was] terrorist related” but have since said their response “has now been stood down”.

Nine people were taken to hospital with injuries sustained whilst evacuating the area.

Police added in a statement: “To date police have not located any trace of any suspects, evidence of shots fired or causalities. 

“If you sought shelter in a building please now leave, and follow the direction of police officers on the ground if you need assistance.”

Oxford Circus and Bond Street stations have now both reopened and all trains are stopping normally.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images
Armed police were quick to the scene.
Peter Nicholls / Reuters
A woman stumbles as people run down Oxford Street.
Simon Dawson / Reuters
Panicked shoppers run along Oxford Street on Friday night

The British Transport Police later revealed the incident at Oxford Circus tube station which sparked the mass evacuation was caused by an “altercation” between two men.

Police had warned people to avoid Oxford Street and stay indoors.

Videos posted on social media showed chaotic scenes particularly around the area of the Selfridges store although they later confirmed the evacuation was precautionary.

Pop star Olly Murs was one of the people inside Selfridges during the panic.

Naomi Mdudu found herself locked in a Pret a Manger after she saw a “flood of people just running”.

She told HuffPost UK: “I was walking towards Oxford Street Station and Carnaby Street was just completely empty and everyone was hiding in the stores, no one knew what was going on.

“And then all of a sudden we just saw a flood of people just running. So I quickly just ran into the closest Pret and to begin with everyone was calm but we suddenly just saw more people running down from Carnaby Street.

“So they locked the doors and just told everyone to get down on the ground and keep away from the windows.”

Melina Michael-Ings, 40, who lives with her partner and two children in Brown Hart Gardens behind Bond Street, was walking to get a pint of milk at the tube station when she saw people running.

“I was just going to get a pint of milk. I saw people running. My first thought was ‘this is a bit extreme for Black Friday’. It was confusing and I continued into Bond Street [Tube station] when I suddenly realised it was deserted, there were chairs on the floor and it felt really eery and strange. Then suddenly a swarm of people came up the escalators. A swarm. It was horrifying. The screams - they were running for lives and it felt like they were running from something.

“I got caught up in the crowds and everyone was screaming and it like we were being chased but I don’t know that we were. I had to climb over the gates to get into my home because it was all blocked off. It felt like we were being chased. There’s still people screaming and running past my window and hiding in the back yard. There’s Japanese tourists hiding in my backyard. I live here, I have somewhere to hide, most people don’t.”

HuffPost reporter Owen Bennett, who was at Bond St during the incident, said he saw heavy duty police cars driving down the road towards a cordon.

“After a few minutes where it seemed like nothing was happening there were screams and everyone started running and people then ran into buildings.”

He said people inside the shops were mostly looking on their phones to find out what was happening, but there were a lot of confused tourists.

Images were shared on social media of Oxford Street being cordoned off during Friday evening rush hour and police on the scene.

Greg Owen, 37, from London, said: “I was next to the tube station and everyone started screaming and shouting and then a flood of people came up the stairs.”

And a witness who only wanted to be known as Emma said: “There were shots fired on Oxford Street and then armed police ran into me and my friend.

“Armed police were running up Argyll Street and now we’re locked in French Connection.”

Several people reported seeing shoppers running into stores away from the underground station, with others reported the area was on “lockdown”.

Dotti Irving, who was shopping in Fenwicks on Bond Street at the time, told HuffPost UK: “I was just about to leave when a whole stream of people came rushing in looking utterly berserk and shocked. A woman was crying and shouting ‘there’s been a bomb, there’s been an explosion’.

“The doorman instantly shut the door and I thought ’if there’s a bomb or someone coming down Bond Street, I don’t want to be in Fenwicks. So I went out of the side door and just rushed down Bond Street and every so often there would be a raft of 200-300 people rushing down the street shrinking and screaming and falling over, pushing each over. That was the horrible bit.

“I called my daughter and she said ‘get into a building’, so I went into Browns in Maddox Street where they were taking everybody in, everyone was really super. We were really looked after. They didn’t want us to leave until we got the all-clear. It was absolutely coming together, it’s the old Blitz thing isn’t it? People talk to each other when they usually simply don’t in London.

“I saw a lot of people being knocked over by other people, a woman with a horrible gash on her head, somebody else was trampled but her boyfriend picked her up. Just sheer panic.”