A man wearing a back brace was mistaken for a suicide bomber while he was on his lunch break in England last week.
Hinesh Vegad was walking along a street Wednesday afternoon in Westhoughton, a town about 15 miles northwest of Manchester, when a member of the public mistook his support device for a suicide vest and called authorities, sparking a terror alert.
He said the concerned citizen reported an “Asian man wearing body armor which was packed at the bottom with wires hanging out”.
Officers managed to track down the 25-year-old, who works at an electronics store, after getting his phone number from a friend and visited him at work to investigate
Vegad, who has needed a back brace since June after injuring himself in a paintballing accident, praised the worried person who alerted police and the officers’ handling of the scare.
He told The Bolton News he had been out to lunch before receiving a call at work from a police officer who obtained his number from a friend.
“It was really strange and I didn’t believe it was an officer at first. When I realized it was serious, I invited them to come over and I made them a cup of tea.
“The officers could clearly see that it wasn’t anything dangerous or harmful, but the member of the public did the right thing in alerting the police when they thought there was something suspicious.
“The police handled it perfectly. You can’t be too careful – this time it was a false alarm, but next time it might not be.”
Greater Manchester Police have confirmed that they searched Westhoughton’s town center after being called at around 1:40 p.m. on Wednesday, but Vegad said he now sees the funny side of the incident, which he believes was not connected to his race.
He added: “I honestly don’t think it was anything to do with race. I would like to think that if someone hadn’t seen a back brace like this before and thought it looked suspicious, then they would report it regardless of who was wearing it.
“Everyone is on high alert now and you hear more and more stories about things like this.
“I have never known of anything like it in Bolton and it was a first for the officers, but you can’t be too careful.
“Everything was handled in the right way and now I can see the funny side of it. I couldn’t fault anything the police did, they were fantastic.”