Four Held After Air Rifle Incident

Armed police were deployed after six people were hit by what were believed to be air rifle pellets, a force said today.

A 14-year-old boy who was shot in the neck, and a 39-year-old woman shot in the leg were taken to hospital and are expected to have to undergo surgery to remove the pellets following the shootings in Queen's Road, Hastings, East Sussex, yesterday evening. Four people were later arrested over the incidents.

The first report was received at 6.28pm when a 17-year-old girl was hit in the back and a 49-year-old woman was hit on the hand near a Morrisons supermarket.

Both declined ambulance treatment and had left the location when police arrived a few minutes later, the spokesman for Sussex Police said.

At 7.37pm, the first of four more reports was received and the 14-year-old boy and 39-year-old woman were taken to hospital. Neither of the injuries is considered life-threatening.

A 63-year-old woman hit in the stomach and a 25-year-old man hit in the arm did not require hospital treatment.

Police officers were directed to a location in Queen's Road where the shots were thought to have come from and at 8.30pm two men, aged 19 and 20, a woman aged 18, all from Hastings, and a 17-year-old boy from St Leonards-on-Sea, were arrested on suspicion of firearms offences and actual bodily harm.

Superintendent Steve Barry said: ``These were nasty, random attacks on unsuspecting members of the public.

``Two of the victims required hospital treatment, but we are satisfied that the injuries are consistent with being caused by an air weapon and not anything more sinister.

``However, this is no excuse. Our response to the incident was a full firearms operation and the suspects were confronted by armed police officers.

``This is something we obviously do not want to happen as it increases the risks for all involved.

``Armed officers have removed a weapon for examination and I am confident that there is no further threat in the area.''

Local road closures in the area were lifted at around 9pm.

Police appealed for anyone who witnessed the incidents, or similar ones in the area, to contact them on 0845 60 70 999.

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