Terrified Flintshire shoppers led to safety by riot police

Reporter:

Matt Jones

TERRIFIED traders have spoken of their ordeal after they were evacuated from their premises by riot police.


Shoppers and staff at businesses in Queensferry had to be escorted under police shields as a machete-wielding man threw tiles and bricks from a roof.


Hundreds watched as Luke Laidlaw, 19, from the Garden City area of Deeside, spent five hours on the roof of businesses on Station Road.


Mr Laidlaw was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and obstructing police after he made his own way off the roof.


Janet Cannon, a pharmacist at Rowlands Pharmacy, said police swooped on the area just after 4.30pm as customers and staff were trapped inside.


She said: “We were in the dispensary and we heard a loud crash from above. He was throwing quite large chunks off the roof. The staff and customers were visibly shaken.


“The police had to escort us from the pharmacy under shields. It was quite scary because we were aware he was on the roof but we did not know what he was going to do next.”


Anyone wanting to pick up a prescription was not able to as the pharmacy was cordoned off for the last hour-and-a-half of trading.


Gary Owen, of Queensferry Sports, said: “There was a commotion going on outside and there were police around. We heard there was a young man on the roof shouting. I could not make out what he was saying but he was throwing a few tiles off the roof and they were hitting the pavement.


“There were three riot police with their shields and we had to be escorted out under police escort under the shields.”


Businesses were also hit by a loss of trade and five nearby food outlets were closed throughout the siege.


Mr Owen added: “Customers could not get here because they were cordoned off. The loss of business is not good in this day and age.”


Enkela Pronjaj, owner of the Master Fryer, said her business had lost out on hundreds of pounds in takings.


She said: “We had a loss of business yesterday. We were closed and nobody came in. It was disappointing. We do not want this to happen again. It was terrifying, especially for children.”


Tailbacks were also reported on the A55 after police cornered off Station Road.
Chief Inspector Mark Hughes said: “The incident concluded safely when the man made his own way off the roof of the building at about 9.10pm.”

Luke Laidlaw is due to appear at Flintshire Magistrates’ Court at Mold today accused of four accounts of criminal damage, one offence of affray and an offence of possession of an offensive weapon.


He was charged yesterday and will remain in custody until his court appearance.

See full story in the Leader

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