Family's car surrounded by armed police as tot screams in Canterbury
Scarlett, 2 and Aaron Johnson - who was arrested by armed
A petrified two-year-old screamed hysterically as her
family’s car was surrounded by police armed with machine guns.
Frightened Scarlett Johnson cowered in the back seat as officers
pointed the weapons just inches from the window in a shock siege at a Sturry Road petrol
Her stunned mum Melissa Stannard – who was handcuffed and
frogmarched across the forecourt – has told how she thought she was
going to die as the police screamed: “Step out of the vehicle!”
The ordeal was sparked after her partner Aaron Johnson was
alleged to have had a gun in a row with neighbours.
But the 27-year-old was released without charge after a night in
cells at Canterbury police station, where he claimed the ‘gun’ was
a mobile phone inside a beenie hat.
Speaking exclusively, the fishing bait salesman, of The Elders,
Littlebourne, said he was furious at the waste of police time.
The Esso petrol station
in Sturry Road where armed police surrounded the car
He said “I’ve lost a day’s wages, my daughter was terrified and
my home has been searched. I told the police the only gun they’d
find would be a water pistol in the bathroom.
“We’ve been having problems with some neighbours since we moved
in a few months ago. I was just going to Westgate to sell some
fishing bait when they started again.
“I went and got my phone and had it in my hat as I was going to
record what was being said. The next thing I knew they were
shouting ‘Oh my god he’s got a gun!’ and were on the phone to the
police. It was ridiculous.”
Following the dispute, the couple set off to Westgate with
Scarlett in the back seat. After dropping off the fishing bait and
heading back to Canterbury, they noticed a police van following
"If it wasn't so terrifying it would have been funny" – Melissa Stannard
Within minutes it was
joined by a 4x4 and two more police cars, tailing the family along
Mum-of-two Melissa, 27, said: “When we pulled into the Esso
station the police suddenly screeched around us and the next thing
I knew was there were machine guns feet from the windscreen. They
were shouting ‘don’t move! Turn off the engine!’
“The funny thing was even when I turned the engine off the radio
wouldn’t stop and I couldn’t hear them properly, although it was
pretty clear what the orders were.
"They were shouting ‘Step out of the vehicle slowly’ but I was
worried if I undid my seatbelt I’d get shot.
"They got me out and handcuffed me. They’d taken Aaron across to
the other side of the forecourt.
“Scarlett was still screaming in the back seat. They tried to
get her out but couldn’t and this armed policeman was shouting: ‘Do
you know how to undo the car seat?’ If it wasn’t so terrifying it
would have been funny.”
After a police search of the couple’s home, garden, shed and
Aaron’s sister’s house failed to reveal any weapon, he was released
Police confirmed a 27-year-old man had been arrested and
released without charge due to insufficient evidence and no gun was
DCI Nick Gossett said: “Any report of a firearm will be taken
extremely seriously and callers will be asked to provide as much
information as possible so that the appropriate police resources
can be sent to the call.”
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