Is it a cornered knife maniac they are about to confront – or a bank robber toting a sawn-off shotgun?
Er, no. They’re up against an escaped cow – a terrified young heifer which has made a dash for freedom from a livestock market.
Heifer hunting: Police armed with sub-machine guns, pictured, patrolled a street in rural Wales before shooting an escaped cow.
The animal leapt over a cattle grid and ran down a bypass and residential streets in the town of Welshpool in central Wales.
Police were called – and soon officers arrived armed with Heckler and Koch semi- automatic machine guns.
The cow’s freedom was shortlived because when the animal had been cornered it was shot dead.
Last night residents in the town condemned the police reaction.
Shot: Police said attempts to round up the animal, pictured, failed so they had to ‘destroy’ it.
Team effort: Local farmers and an auctioneer, pictured, assisted police in locating the cow.
Julie Macleod, who saw the incident, said the response was ‘over the top’.
She said: ‘It was awful. Why did they have to shoot it? There was no need, it was only a heifer. If it was a bull then I would understand but it’s only a heifer.’ Another resident said: ‘It was completely unnecessary. Farmers have to catch runaway cows all the time so they didn’t have to go and shoot it dead like that. I think it’s dreadful.
‘Why didn’t they let it calm down and then take it back to the market? It’s wrong and a massive over-reaction.’
The drama happened just after 9am on Monday when the animal fled the livestock market and ended up in the back garden of a house.
Police officers were joined by farmers and an auctioneer as they tried to assess how agitated the animal was.
The property was cordoned off and after more than two hours a police marksman was called in to put the heifer down.
As he set up station at the rear of the property with his rifle, two colleagues stood ready with sub-machine guns. Bystanders were moved away while the marksman fired four shots to kill the heifer.
Concerned: Residents, pictured, feared for their safety with the cow on the loose, however some said the shooting was ‘over the top’.
Mad dash: Witnesses, pictured, saw the plucky heifer make a dash for it from Welshpool Livestock Market on Monday.
A police spokesman said: ‘We received a report at approximately 9.10am this morning that a cow had escaped from Welshpool Livestock Market.
‘There were concerns for the safety of the general public and police personnel together with a risk of damage to property within the area. The only safe option left was to humanely destroy the animal.’