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I was ordered out of my shop at gunpoint
7:00am Monday 25th June 2012 in Southend
A SHOP OWNER has revealed how he, his wife and baby were ordered out of his store at gunpoint after a hoax call to police by schoolchildren.
Police marksmen surrounded the News and Store shop, on the corner of Fairfax Drive and Ronald Park Avenue, in Westcliff, on Wednesday, after a call claiming the owner was armed.
With guns trained on him, shocked owner, Thilakasekaram Inthrajith, was ordered to put his hands on his head and come out of the shop with his terrified wife Sobikka, their 18-month old son Keeran, and his cousin, Vetivelu Sanjayan.
Mr Inthrajith, 32, told the Echo he didn’t find out what the police were doing at the shop until two hours after the incident started at 4pm.
He said: “They treated us like terrorists. It was really scary when it happened.
“All of a sudden we saw police surrounding the shop with guns and then they started shouting at us to come out.
“We had no idea what was going on, but when we walked out, there were all these police, with guns pointed at us.
“Then, some of them went inside and started searching around, but no one would tell me what was going on, or why they were there.“ Cops closed the road for more than an hour while they mounted a painstaking search of the building, but found nothing. The youngsters, some from nearby Chase High School, escaped with a ticking off from police. Two children have since been suspended from the school.
The drama followed an incident in which 20 schoolchildren entered the store and began shouting, pushing and fighting each other, before Mr Inthrajith marched them out.
A short while later, police received an anonymous call saying Mr Inthrajith had a gun.
Armed police stormed the shop at 4pm and carried out a two-hour search in the shop and the flat above where the family live, before leaving empty-handed.
It is not the first time Mr Inthrajith has had to deal with troublesome youngsters.
He said: “We have had ongoing problems with kids from the school in the past. They damage stock and have shoplifted, but the police don’t do anything.
“I am really fed up with it and don’t know what else to do.”
Police confirmed they did not find a firearm and said they gave the youngsters involved in the incident some “strong words of advice.”
They refused to disclose to the Echo how much it cost to send an armed unit out, but a police spokesman said: “The armed unit is always available day and night to react to an incident, so there would be no additional cost for them to attend this incident.”