A MAN shooting rabbits on his own land found himself at the centre of a police incident involving the force helicopter.

Cleveland Police officers were sent to wasteland at the Preston Farm Industrial Estate in Stockton, Teesside, at around 6.45pm tonight.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing a man with a gun being ordered to throw down his weapon, while the helicopter hovered overhead.

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But it later transpired the man was lawfully shooting rabbits.

A Cleveland Police spokesman said: "We had a report from a member of the public of a person with a firearm.

"It was someone on his own land shooting a shotgun at rabbits."

The incident took place on wasteground behind the Soccer Sensations centre, a leisure facility with five-a-side football pitches.

Centre manager Daniel Pattison said: "There was a police helicopter there apparently.

"Everyone here came running inside, but it was all over pretty quickly."

Darren Walker, 20, from Stockton, who was in the centre's car park, said: "The man in the helicopter shouted 'put the gun down and walk towards the officers.' "There were two other officers stood to the side."