Armed police were called to an industrial estate to reports of GUNFIRE following an illegally organised bare-knuckle fight between gypsies.
Firearms officers, 18 police cars and a force helicopter were deployed after trouble erupted when hundreds of travellers gathered to watch the brawl on Sunday.
Staffordshire Police said they received calls from members of the public who heard firearms being discharged following the fight at Parkhouse Industrial Estate, in Chesterton, Staffs.
Gun shots were reported to have been fired between two vehicles following the Fight Club-style boxing event at around 12.25pm and baseball bats and knives were also seen.
A force spokesman said: “Police were first called by members of the public concerned about the way in which certain vehicles were being driven on the A34 near Parkhouse.
“The witnesses reported seeing weapons such as baseball bats and bladed weapons.
“Due to the information received armed officers were deployed, along with the force helicopter and dog support, to an area in the Parkhouse Industrial Estate after receiving reports of disorder at the location.
“Although the exact details of what has happened are under investigation, we can confirm there has been an incident involving a group of travellers.
“At this time there are no reported injuries and it is unclear if shots had been fired.”
Police said they carried out a detailed search of the group of people and vehicles and a significant amount of weapons were recovered.
The area was cordoned off to ensure the public’s safety.
Officers were also given additional search powers, under Section 60 of the Public Order Act, to aid their work because of the potential threat of violence.
Chief Inspector Neil Hulme, who led the operation, said: “We did everything we could to keep everyone safe.
“The safety of the general public, officers and those involved was a priority.
“Although we have yet to establish exactly what has happened and who is involved, we believe those responsible are known to each other through the travelling community.
“We had additional patrols in the area to keep the local community safe.”
One eyewitness from the traveller community said the incident occurred after the event, causing police to cordon off the site.
Joe Joyce, a 23-year-old Irish gypsy, who had travelled to Staffordshire especially for the boxing match, said: “We came to support one of the fighters who won.
“It was an organised event that attracted more than 400 people.
“It is illegal and the police didn’t know anything about it.
“They wouldn’t have let it happen if they had known.
“There were no problems during the fight but an incident happened afterwards and they made everyone leave.
“Let’s just say ‘bang bang’.”
Another gypsy, Bryan Parker, 24, travelled from Ireland to Staffordshire and is stopping for three days for the event.
He said: “We came here for the sport and to support one of the fighters.
“It’s a big event that almost 500 people went to.
“There’s a gypsy camp nearby but we stayed in a hotel.
“Something happened after the fight but I can’t talk about it.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting incident 296 of November 9, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
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