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Replica firearm ends in arrest as RGP warns of potentially lethal risk

A 38-year old local man was arrested this morning for carrying a replica firearm in public, prompting police to warn of the dangers of such actions against the backdrop of heightened security and the threat of terrorism.

The Royal Gibraltar Police deployed armed officers to the area of Waterport Road after reports from the public of a man with a firearm riding a motorbike in the area.

The firearm was found to be a replica sub machine gun and the man was arrested for conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace. He has been released on police bail pending the outcome of investigations.

But in a statement, the RGP moved swiftly to underscore the risks that situations such as this can pose for anyone involved.

“Any incident whether of a criminal or security-related nature in which a firearm is suspected to be involved is extremely serious, with the deployment of firearms officers authorised in those circumstances,” the RGP said.

“In addition to the possible danger posed to the public, firearms officers deployed to counter a threat from a firearm employ measures that may include the use of lethal force.”

“This is not the first instance of firearms officers having to respond and despite previous requests by the RGP for persons to refrain from carrying toy guns or replica firearms in public, this type of incident continues to occur, with potentially lethal consequences for the individual.”

The RGP reminded the public that the threat level in Gibraltar remains at ‘substantial’, the third-highest grading in a five-step list that means a terrorist attack is “a strong possibility”, albeit there is no specific intelligence suggesting any threat to the Rock.

The threat level was increased to ‘substantial’ in the wake of the terrorist attack on the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris in 2015 and has remained at that level since.

There have been numerous terrorist attacks throughout Europe and elsewhere since then, with heightened security measures including patrols by armed offices now a matter of routine in Gibraltar, as elsewhere in Europe.

“The RGP appeals to the public to refrain from the brandishing or carrying of toy or replica firearms in a manner that may cause public concern and forces our highly trained firearms officers to make split second decisions as to whether a firearm is a replica or real,” the RGP said.

“There are regular reports globally of firearms officers using lethal force on individuals carrying replica firearms.”

“We do not want these tragic circumstances to occur in Gibraltar.”

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