ARMED police pursued a disgruntled Waitrose shopper when he threatened to return to the store with two guns after rowing in an aisle with a customer.

The 65-year-old man sparked a police chase after he stormed out of the supermarket, in Fossetts Way, Southend.

The police helicopter was sent up and firearms officers were drafted in to hunt for the man after he made the threats.

He was eventually spotted at Sainsbury's, in London Road, Southend, where police put up a cordon to surround the man.

The man, from Rayleigh, was then arrested and taken to Southend police station, where he was given a caution after admitting disorderly conduct.

Although he did not have guns on him, police discovered he owned two shotguns, which were later seized. Chief Insp Simon Anslow, district commander for Southend, said: “There was a dispute and the customer made threats, saying he would come back with some guns. There are serious consequences for making threats, whether you intend to carry out the full action or not.

“If you mention firearms, Essex Police will take that seriously.

“We had the helicopter out, numerous firearms officers and road closures are often involved.

While that is taking place, officers are being taken away from dealing with other incidents.”

Although Waitrose refused to say what caused the argument, at about 12.45pm on Tuesday, a spokesman said: “There was an exchange of words between two customers which was brought to our attention and we felt it necessary to inform the police.

“We are grateful to the police for their support.”