A teenager took a handgun to a bowling alley in Barnwood and told colleagues it was “protection against Muslims”. Armed police burst into tenpin bowling centre on Sunday afternoon after the 17-year-old took the Second World War handgun to his workplace.
The boy was arrested and later cautioned for possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. He was also suspended by his bosses and admitted it had been “stupid”.
The teenager had told a manager that the weapon was “protection against Muslims” in the wake of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich last week.
Muslim Said Handsot, the Sheriff of Gloucester, condemned the act. He said: “What is he expecting people to do? I don’t know how many times I need to say it, but we are law-abiding people. This sort of act is going to create a reaction and it is asking for trouble.
“I feel hurt by this as a Muslim because I certainly do not use violence or weapons. I feel really sorry for this boy as he may lose his job and bring shame on his parents.”
The boy told police that he had been under pressure because of exams he was studying for but admitted it was “stupid”. His parents said the weapon had been bought on a family holiday as a souvenir and was completely “locked down” – meaning it could never fire.
Police have confirmed it is the first incident in Gloucester in the wake of the Woolwich murder. Superintendent Emma Ackland, from Gloucestershire Police, condemned the boy’s action. She said:
“This boy acted completely irresponsibly and was dealt with appropriately. It is important to recognise that this is an isolated incident and that communities within Gloucester have come together to condemn last week’s murder in Woolwich. There has been a good amount of interaction between the police and local people, demonstrating the strength in local relationships within Gloucester.”
Helen Gilbert, a spokeswoman for tenpin, confirmed the employee had been suspended. She said: “Security for our staff and customers is absolutely paramount.”