COPS were yesterday trying to track down a hoax caller who sparked a major armed police search for a gunman in a Paisley housing scheme.
The operation was mounted after a mystery caller reported that a man with a handgun was in the back garden of a house in Glenburn.
Within minutes of the alert, a team from the Armed Response Unit raced to the scene, along with officers with sniffer dogs.
A squad of officers surrounded a family home in the Highfield Avenue area, which lies off the town’s Glenburn Road.
As the hunt for a gunman got under way, the police helicopter was brought in to scan a wider area from the air.
But, after almost an hour, no-one was found.
Officers are now trying to find the person who made the malicious phone call.
Last night, the cost of the whole police operation was expected to run into many thousands of pounds.
A few hours later, the Armed Response Unit attended a second gun incident, this time at Howwood.
The Glenburn drama happened around 4.15pm on Tuesday in a usually quiet area of the town.
An anxious resident told the Paisley Daily Express: “All of a sudden, three police 4x4 vehicles appeared and parked at the end of the street.
“Then I saw police dogs and the police helicopter flying above us. It must have been in the air for about 40 minutes. The noise was deafening.
“The officers who got out of vehicles were not carrying weapons but I heard they were from the Armed Response Unit and there had been reports of a gunman.
“The officers went to a particular house and must have spent at least an hour there.
“I didn’t see anyone being arrested or taken away in police cars.”
Later, Superintendent Jim Baird said: “All calls from the public are taken seriously.
“In this case, what was reported was potentially a very serious risk to the public and the police responded very quickly to remove that risk.
“On this occasion, the call made to the police was malicious and we will continue to make inquiries to identify and charge the culprit.”
Two 17-year-old youths were questioned by police and later released without charge.
The incident at Howwood happened in the Midton Road area shortly after 9pm when a woman saw a man stop his car, get out and pick up an air rifle lying at the roadside.
Armed police were called out and began searching the area for a Peugeot car.
Less then an hour later the car was spotted in the forecourt of a filling station.
A man in the vehicle was detained by police and officers later raided a house and confiscated an air weapon.
He faces a breach of the peace charge and is expected to appear in court soon.