Armed police seized a man resembling triple shooting suspect Raoul Moat in a city centre swoop today, witnesses said.
But the arrest in front of shoppers and office workers in Sunderland proved to be a false alarm.
Eyewitnesses described how gun-wielding officers surrounded a man, seized his bag and bundled him into a car.
The arrest took place opposite Thomas Watson Estate Agents in Fawcett Street at about 9.45am.
One local businesswoman, who did not want to be named, said: "It was terrifying with all the guns and everything. It was something I've never seen before.
"He was walking across the road dressed in blue denim, then across from the other side of the road one policeman with a shield and a gun grabbed his bag.
"Then other policeman with guns surrounded him.
"The police were just calm and he was motionless. He didn't resist arrest one little bit."
She added: "He looked very much like the man I saw on the TV this morning."
The man bought a chocolate bar in Finlays Newsagents in St Thomas Street just two minutes before being arrested.
A worker in the newsagents, who did not want to be named, said: "He was in the shop. Then armed response came into the street and they arrested him.
"He had a big black holdall over his shoulder."
James Desty, 22, from Sunderland, also saw the drama unfold.
"It looked like him. There were armed cops around him - they were asking him for ID," he said.Reuse content