TWO men have tonight been charged in connection with an alleged firearms incident in Leadgate, near Consett, County Durham.

Andrew Martin Wright, 21, of Meadomesley, and Jason Blackwood, 21, of Shotley Bridge have been remanded in custody and are due to appear before magistrates in Peterlee in the morning.

Both were charged with possession of a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to cause fear or violence.

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Armed police were called to Dunelm Walk at 10am on Thursday after a man was allegedly threatened with a handgun.

Knives, a sledgehammer and a samurai sword were recovered.

Police arrested a total of six people in connection with the incident.

Inspector Keith Wardle said the handgun had yet not been recovered and no shots were fired.

He said police had recovered knives, a sledgehammer and a samurai sword from subsequent raids in the Leadgate, Medomsley, Shotley Bridge and Chopwell areas.

Inspector Wardle, of the Consett policing team, said: “Three armed response units were deployed following reports of a firearm.

“The situation was dealt very quickly in a co-ordinated and controlled way with assistance from our colleagues at Northumbria Police.

“We tried to keep disruption to the public to a minimum. No members of the community were put at risk.”

Armed response units were dispatched as soon of reports of a handgun were made to police and six properties were cordoned off and searched.

The properties were taped off for most of the day while specialist teams, including sniffer dogs, searched the premises.

The B6310 between Shotley Bridge and Medomsley crossroads was also closed for the police operation to be carried out.

Six people - five men and one woman - were arrested on suspicion of firearms offences.

A 56-year-old man from Shotley Bridge, a 25-year-old man from Leadgate, a 20-year-old man from Consett and a 19-year-old man from Chopwell have been bailed pending further inquiries while the investigation continues.

Insp Wardle added: “No firearms were discharged. The public should be reassured that this wasn't a random incident and the people involved are believed to be known to each other.”

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information can contact Durham Constabulary on the non-emergency number, 101.