AN AFRICAN man was being quizzed today following a dramatic siege at a Merseyside business.
Police marksmen surrounded St Helens-based metal analyst Alfred Knight following reports a man carrying suspected explosives had taken three people hostage.
Some 200 workers fled the firm, off Prescot Road, as the alarm was raised at around 11.30am yesterday.
They were evacuated from the converted suburban house to Carmel College and West Park Rugby Club along with nearby residents.
Bomb squad officers and police flooded the area as specially trained negotiators liaised with the suspect.
Employee Andrew Howard, 24, said: “We were told the man came in and made certain demands.
“He wanted internet access and demanded to see the finance director.”
Students at the college frantically text home as News
of the security alert spread.
One Spanish student told the ECHO: “We couldn’t leave the grounds and could only text our family to let them know we were OK.
“Many girls were crying and some people jumped over the back fence to get away.”
Eleven fire engines and a larges numbers of emergency vehicles lined the road as negotiators worked to free the hostages.
Dozens of police officers blocked Prescot Road and paths leading into the 250-yard cordon.
The hostages were released unharmed after an hour and the suspect was contained in the main office block.
Bomb disposal teams from the Royal Logistics Corps remained at the scene as the stand-off continued.
At just before 5pm the man left the building and surrendered to police.
He was sped away in a black saloon car flanked by two patrol cars and police bikes.
Superintendent Peter Edge said: “We can confirm that a 35-year-old man, believed to originate from central Africa, was arrested today after making threats at a St Helens company.
“He was also believed to be in possession of a suspicious package.
“No-one has been injured during the incident and the site will remain cordoned off until a search of the premises has been completed.
“The man remains in police custody and is currently being questioned by detectives.”
Police today confirmed the man was arrested on suspicion of making threats to kill and false imprisonment. the echo