Final update: the hostages were released, and just after 3pm, the man at the centre of the incident was led away by police. Presumably without a refund for his HGV course. Take a look at the events that happened today below…
Officers are in attendance at an incident in Tottenham Court Road, where a man is causing a disturbance. #TCR
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) April 27, 2012
A 50-year-old man who claimed to be armed with a bomb – or maybe a gas canister – has taken four hostages at a Tottenham Court Road office. We believe that the office is a logistics company, running training & testing for HGV drivers, and the hostage-taker has, frankly, flipped out after he failed his test one too many times. The road is largely sealed off to traffic and the Goodge Street section is closed to pedestrians too, including the station.
Here’s an interview with Abby Baafi who managed to escape the office the hostage-taker targeted.
We spoke to Taiba Abisher, a UCL student who was eating at a café opposite when the incident began. She told us that around noon, a police officer burst in and instructed everyone to leave immediately, which is when they saw paperwork and computers being thrown from the 3rd floor of an office building across the street.
Photograph from the Tottenham Court Road Hostage crisis in Starbucks: twitter.com/#!/benturner83…
— Rupert Myers (@RupertMyers) April 27, 2012
Some time later, we saw four police vans arrive, bomb squad officers emerge and change into all-black coveralls and balaclavas before disappearing into a nearby building. The incident triggered a major emergency response: bomb experts, large numbers of police redirecting traffic, snipers, ambulance crews and, pictured below, large packs of blood in case anyone injured needed immediate transfusions.
Ultimately, the remaining hostages were released, and the man causing the disturbance gave himself up and was taken into custody at around 3pm.