Takeaway targeted by malicious hoax call
Armed police shutdown one of Knaresborough’s busiest high streets and locked pupils in school last week as a vicious ‘hoax call’ caused chaos in the North Yorkshire town.
On Wednesday 16th October, Police received a phone call stating there was an “immediate threat to members of the public” at the Paragon pizza takeaway.
Dozens of officers, armed with submachine guns and baton round launchers arrived at the scene to detain two staff members outside the establishment, whilst a third was arrested moments later.
However, after a search of the individuals and the premises, the report was labeled a ‘cruel prank’ which had been targeted at the innocent staff.
Now, the Paragon employees have told the Asian Express about the horrendous ordeal they were put through, despite not doing anything wrong.
Razaul Karim, owner and manager of the eatery, was the third member to be detained by police after arriving late to work and explained how shocked he was to find the establishment.
“I was on my way in and was later than usual so tried ringing the takeaway but there was no answer. That made me a little worried to be honest because we always open at five so I tried the staff mobiles and again no answer. I had no idea what was happening.
“When I pulled into Knaresborough the High street had been cordoned off and before I knew it there were armed officers pointing their guns at me shouting, ‘keep your hand on the wheel’.
“They handcuffed me in my car and told me my business was being searched because they had reports saying we had ‘ammunition’ and ‘gun powder’ on our premises, I was terrified.”
Following Mr Karim’s arrest, he was taken to the police station and questioned in the car for over two hours before a ‘horrible’ body search was conducted.
At approximately 8.30pm police released a statement saying the incident was a result of a hoax telephone call but Mr Karim said ‘the damage had already been done by then’.
“We were told we can go after that but I was still in shock,” he continued. “I am still struggling with mental anxiety when I’m at home because you just don’t expect something like that to happen to you.
“If it wasn’t for the fantastic support of the local people, we could have really struggled over the last week. Fortunately the public’s response has been fantastic; we got a host of cards through and on Saturday night we completely sold out of food we were that busy.”
Clare Hamberg is one of Paragon’s ‘loyal’ customers and explained how she could not believe the news as it was reported.
“I first heard about it when my son told me his friends had to stay in school because the police had closed the street,” she said. “When I was told it was the Paragon guys I knew the police were wrong.”
North Yorkshire Police Police issued the following statement in regard to the incident: “Although we have established that the calls to North Yorkshire Police and a neighbouring force were malicious and hoax...our prime concern during the incident was to ensure the safety of members of the public. As a result, we ensured a rapid police response to the town centre.
“The incident has caused great concern, alarm and disruption to the people of Knaresborough and an investigation led by our Major Crime Unit is now underway to find out who was responsible and ensure they are brought to justice.”
A Leeds man has since been arrested and released on bail in connection to the incident, whilst police are still urging witnesses to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.