A woman who was caught up in a 10-hour siege in Hucknall has said she is pleased the man who was at the centre of it has been jailed – but hopes he gets help.
Reece Theison (20), of no fixed address, entered Spot On Snooker Club, in Vine Terrace, at around 11am on Thursday 13th March 2014. By 2.20pm he was the only customer in the club.
After he began causing staff concern, they called police.
On the arrival of officers Theison produced a gun. The team withdrew from the building and called for back-up.
Two staff members, who were unable to escape, retreated to an office and locked the door, leaving Theison alone in the bar area.
A cordon was set up and armed officers surrounded the club. Nearby residents were asked to stay indoors, with no one allowed to enter the immediate area. The neighbouring school was also evacuated.
Trained negotiators worked to defuse the situation, all the while keeping Theison’s attention from the hiding women. But the armed man refused to leave. Instead he watched TV and drank alcohol from the bar.
At around 8.40pm armed officers entered the club and led the women to safety. But the incident didn’t end there. For another four hours Theison held his ground, the gun by his side. He continued to drink, as well as smash bottles and throw snooker balls.
At about 12.40am, after his behaviour became more erratic, a single baton round was discharged at Theison, striking him in the abdomen. He was quickly disarmed and given immediate medical assistance to ensure he was fit to be detained.
He was then taken into police custody.
On further examination Theison’s gun was found to be an air-powered replica gun, which was set to fire.
On Tuesday, he admitted possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence, theft and criminal damage. At Nottingham Crown Court earlier today he was sentenced to five years in jail for the firearms offence. For the theft and criminal damage he was ordered to serve six months for each offence to run concurrently.
Kerry Moran was one of the women holed up in the building. She said: “That night is all a bit of a blur. There were so many thoughts going through my mind. Why was he here? What did he want? What was he going to do?
“The longer we were there the more I worried he’d start wandering around and eventually find us. Then what?
“What played on my mind the most was wondering what my kids must have been going through knowing I was locked in a building with a man with a gun.
“I’m back at work now, but I’m on edge all the time. When customers come in I’m conscious of their actions and questioning their intentions. The affect that night has had on my life is beyond anything I thought it would have.
“I’m glad Theison has been given a jail term today. He obviously needs help. I just hope he gets it.”
The circumstances surrounding the discharge of the baton round were investigated by the force’s Professional Standards Directorate, which is standard procedure. It found the operation was “positively managed with a high degree of professionalism and restraint”, and that the action taken by armed officers was proportionate, justified and necessary.
Detective Inspector Rich Monk, who led the investigation, said: “It was gut instinct that led to the staff member calling us. She was right to trust it. Theison was carrying a gun that day and was intent on causing trouble.
“He knew the weapon was a replica but the officers who had it pointed at them didn’t know that and neither did those women cowering for their lives. We had to act on those assumptions and do all we could to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of nearby residents, our own officers and the gunman himself.
“It was an incredibly sensitive balancing act between dealing with a potentially violent man and making sure those women remained undiscovered and safe. The TV was on in the bar so we had to keep a tight control over what information was released and when.
“I’d like to acknowledge the cooperation from and the bravery of the women during what must have been a terrifying ordeal. They were unharmed but both remain incredibly shaken by the events of that very long day.
“I’d also like to thank the local community for their patience, support and understanding during the operation. Our number one priority was, as always, to keep people safe and I am glad we were able to do that.
“Theison’s actions put himself and others in serious danger. Despite being afforded numerous opportunities to drop his weapon and put an end to the incident he refused, fully aware of the fear he was causing to an entire neighbourhood around him. He now has time to reflect on that in jail.
“Let this be a clear message. We will not tolerate threats of violence against our communities. Our response will be swift and it will be proportionate.”