Police have found no evidence of shots having been fired, no suspects and no serious casualties after panic on Oxford Street late this afternoon.
People ran and screamed from Britain’s most famous shopping street on one of its busiest days of the year as teams of armed officers moved in to close down Oxford Circus tube station.
The panic was started after gunfire was reportedly heard in or around the Underground station around 5pm today – but police have yet to find any source of gunshots.
A large section of Oxford Street was locked down at the height of the scare, but much of the area has now been reopened.
An armed police officer at Oxford Street in central London today after reports of gunfire
Teams of armed officers stormed the station but say they found no evidence of gunfire
Panicked shoppers locked themselves in shops at the height of the scare late this afternoon
Police flooded the area after the reports came in. Officers said they are reopening the station
MailOnline journalist Keiligh Baker, who was walking towards Carnaby Street from when the incident unfolded, said: ‘Lots of armed police arrived and stormed Oxford Street. They were shouting ‘move, move, move!’.
‘Then the uniformed officers started shouting ‘go, go, go’. People were sprinting and screaming.’
Ms Baker added: ‘We ran along Oxford Street and there were lots of shops with people in them, some were locked, some were still letting people in.’
Another witness Ryan Smith who was working in a building on the corner of Great Titchfield Street and Oxford Street, said: ‘It seemed as if there were thousands of people running past the building. One girl who ran into the building said she heard several bangs, she was very shook up.
‘It was just like a stampede – there were thousands of people running down the street. They started flocking into the building.
‘And then I have come up and I have gone to the window and then it was calm for a second. Then people started running into shops.’
But after people ran through neighbouring streets and locked themselves in basements, police played down the incident which appeared to have sparked the panic.
A police statement released at 5:40pm stated: ‘To date police have not located any trace of any suspects, evidence of shots fired or causalities. Officers continue to work with colleagues from British Transport Police in the area of Oxford Circus.
‘Updates will be provided as soon as we have them.
‘If you are in building stay in a building, if you are on the street in Oxford Street leave the area. Officers are continuing to search the area.’
British Transport Police said they have received one report of a woman sustaining a minor injury when leaving Oxford Circus station, but there are no other reported casualties.
Blue lights were flashing as people stood around and watched as the chaos continued to unfold and people ran into shops
The area was in lockdown and a cordon was in place while police scoured the area this evening
Several pedestrians were seen on their mobile phones speaking to others during the panic
There were unconfirmed reports of a gang fight on Westbound platform.
Boots pharmacist Alyssa Puddle, 25, originally from Cwmbran, South Wales, said: ‘There were hundreds of people standing with their Black Friday shopping waiting to get home, and some people were not in the best mood.
‘I saw a group of 20 lads walking down the westbound platform in one direction, and two other men coming the other way.
‘My view was blocked, so I’m not sure what started the fight, but the next second a woman was screaming as if something terrible had happened. They must have bumped into each other and started it from there.
‘Because it was so busy people were just being sucked into the fight and shoved around. I got forced up against a wall as the brawl got bigger.
‘More people were screaming and shouting and I saw several punches fly.
Stunned witnesses described seeing a stampede of shoppers and the a cordon was put in place while police swarmed the area
One man was seen speaking to a police officer during the chaos while holding his phone to his chest
A large group of people were seen looking around and filing out of the underground station
Police officers were seen standing on islands as people returned to the pavements afterwards
Several people were seen standing outside an exit point of Oxford Circus tube station earlier
‘Eventually the larger group grabbed one of the other men by the scruff of the neck and dragged him to the edge of the platform.
‘There was a train coming and it looked like he would be pushed onto the tracks. It was horrifying.
‘Everyone panicked and started shouting to get the guy away from the platform edge.
‘When the train came up to the platform the fight stopped and the group moved off.
‘I jumped on the train to get away, and that’s when they made the announcement to evacuate the station.
‘All I could see before it pulled away was a herd of people surging towards to the stairs to escape.
‘As I got on the tube the comms speaker announced the station as being evacuated and for everyone to leave.
Two officers looked on as people remained on the roads and walked around after the incident
Earlier, police officers blocked an exit point at Oxford Circus as people stood around and waited for instruction
Oxford Circus was extremely busy as people stood around and tried to work out what was happening
‘As the tube doors shut police officers had arrived.
‘As the speakers went off I saw everyone run from the platform. People panicked because it looked very sinister.’
At 6.08pm, Scotland Yard put out another statement saying: ‘The Met response on Oxford Street has now been stood down.
‘If you sought shelter in a building please now leave and follow the direction of police officers on the ground if you need assistance.
‘At 16:38hrs on Friday, 24 November police started to receive numerous 999 calls within a short space of time reporting shots fired in a number of locations on Oxford Street and at Oxford Circus underground station.
‘Given the nature of the information received, the Met responded in line with our existing operation as if the incident was terrorism, including the deployment of armed officers.
‘Officers working with colleagues from British Transport Police carried out an urgent search of the area. No causalities, evidence of any shots fired or any suspects were located by police.’
Greg Bird told MailOnline he was sat outside a coffee shop near Oxford Circus station when he saw ‘about 50 people sprinting around the corner and screaming’.
British Transport Police (BTP) said the panic was sparked by an evacuation of the Central Line platform of Oxford Circus.
The spokesman said: ‘At 4.37pm this afternoon, officers were called to Oxford Circus station following reports of gunfire on the westbound Central Line platform.
‘Passengers at the station then self-evacuated the station onto Oxford Circus and Regent Street area of London.
‘This caused a significant level of panic which resulted in numerous calls from members of the public reporting gunfire.
‘Officers responded in line with our procedures of a terrorist incident, this included armed officers from British Transport Police and the Metropolitan Police.
The BTP spokesman added: ‘A full and methodical search of the station and Oxford Street was conducted by officers.
‘At this stage, we are examining the circumstances of the incident which resulted in the station being evacuated.
‘During the station evacuation, one woman is believed to have sustained a minor injury.
‘We continue to work with the Metropolitan Police Service and are working to reopen Oxford Circus and Bond Street Tube stations. ‘
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were due to attend the Royal Variety Performance at the nearby London Palladium on Friday evening.
A Kensington Palace spokesman said: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will still attend this evening’s Royal Variety Performance. Their arrival will be delayed, but we hope they will be able to arrive in time for the start of the performance.’
Terrified shoppers have told how they locked in the basement of a bar after gunshots were reportedly heard at Oxford Circus