Police manhunt in Widegates for 'armed' Derrel Weaver

Mr Weaver is well-known locally as an Elvis-impersonator, as Scott Bingham reports

Dozens of police officers are involved in an armed manhunt in Cornwall for a man who they fear might be carrying a gun.

Derrel Weaver, 60, of Higher Widlake Farm, Widegates, near Looe, has been missing since a "domestic" incident on Thursday night.

Police warned people not to approach Mr Weaver, an Elvis impersonator. A nearby school was also closed as a precaution.

Officers said they wanted to "resolve the incident as safely as possible".

Closure 'precautionary'

At around 20:30 BST on Friday specialist armed police officers were seen leaving the farm, loading a number of specialist weapons into a van, and driving off.

At least 15 marked and unmarked police cars and vans were initially present in the village of Widegates. Dog units and a "substantial" number of firearms officers were also reported at the scene.

Three ambulances were also called later to the scene as a "precaution", the South Western Ambulance Service said.

People were warned to avoid the area and to report any suspicious activity.

The nearby Trenode Church of England Primary School was closed as a precaution, police said.

A force spokesman said the move was "for safety reasons and because of the ongoing police activity in that area".

Police warned members of the public not to approach Derrel Weaver

Trenode Church of England Primary School Trenode Church of England Primary School was closed "as a precaution"
Widegates The village of Widegates is close to Liskeard and Looe in south-east Cornwall
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At the scene: Claire Jones, BBC News

With a helicopter whirring overhead and a large police presence, residents in this sleepy village have been left in a state of worry.

Residents are mainly concerned for the welfare of Derrel Weaver and that he is safe.

A police cordon is in place closing the road leading to Mr Weaver's residential property, which is surrounded by fields.

Armed officers are walking around and sniffer dogs are being used with about 15 police vehicles surrounding the area.

Trenode Primary School is now completely empty and very quiet, much like the rest of the village away from the cordon.

The message from the police is of reassurance, firstly to the residents and secondly to Mr Weaver. They say they are here to keep everyone safe.

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Officer assemble shield Dozens of police officers are in the Cornish village searching for Mr Weaver
Police cars The police helicopter is on standby, and firearms officers and dog units are at the scene

Supt Jim Pearce said: "We would ask the public to be vigilant at what is obviously a disturbing time for local communities.

"If any member of the public sees Mr Weaver we would ask them to ring 999 and not to approach him.

"There is currently no suggestion that Mr Weaver is any risk to members of the public, but we need to locate him as soon as possible."

'Make contact'

At 14:40 BST, police tweeted they were "doing everything possible to maintain public safety, but we ask local people to be patient during this time".

Police said they had searched a number of properties around and neighbouring Mr Weaver's home, and searches were continuing.

He was "likely to be in the area close to Widegates and his home address", they said.

However, several armed response vehicles have also been reported to be in the nearby Menheniot area and were believed to be involved in the search.

Seaton beach on the county's south coast has also been searched.

Supt Pearce said: "We do not believe that Derrel has planned for this and so we would like to reassure him that this can be resolved safely and would urge him to make contact with us as soon as he is able."

The head teacher of Trenode Primary School made the decision to close it after speaking to police.

The school, which is near the villages of Widegates and Morval, has 75 pupils.

Local resident Janine Bryant told the BBC that she knew Mr Weaver as a "very, very nice guy".

"This is totally out of character," she said.

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