There was no evidence of shots being fired or any casualties on London’s busiest shopping street despite widespread panic, police have said.
There was a “significant level of panic” on Oxford Street and at Oxford Circus tube station as witnesses reported they heard gunfire.
But after armed police responded to the area which was packed with Black Friday shoppers and rush-hour commuters, they announced nothing had been found and the Tube station has re-opened. One woman suffered minor injuries in the crush as the station was evacuated.
In a statement British Transport Police said: “At 4.37pm this afternoon, officers were called to Oxford Circus station following reports of gunfire on the westbound Central Line platform.
“Passengers at the station then self-evacuated the station onto Oxford Circus and Regent Street area of London.
“This caused a significant level of panic which resulted in numerous calls from members of the public reporting gunfire.
“Officers responded in line with our procedures of a terrorist incident; this included armed officers from British Transport Police and the Metropolitan Police. A full and methodical search of the station and Oxford Street was conducted by officers.
“At this stage, we are examining the circumstances of the incident which resulted in the station being evacuated.
“During the station evacuation, one woman is believed to have sustained a minor injury.”
BBC producer Helen Bushby, who was shopping in the area, said: “I was just walking down from the BBC towards the tube and there was a mass stampede away from the tube as fast as they could.
“They were crying, they were screaming, they were dropping their shopping bags. It was a very panicked scene.
“People said they heard a gunshot and panic was just spreading.”
Video posted to Twitter showed police shouting “get inside somewhere” as they escorted people away from Oxford Street.
Footage also showed people calmly filing out of the tube station as an automated message urged passions to “leave the station immediately”.
Video posted to Twitter later showed people walking away from the station.
Greg Owen, 37, from London, said: “I was next to the tube station and everyone started screaming and shouting and then a flood of people came up the stairs.”
And a witness who only wanted to be known as Emma said: “There were shots fired on Oxford Street and then armed police ran into me and my friend.
“Armed Police were running up Argyll Street and now we’re locked in French Connection.”
One woman named Maaiysa, a journalist for TRT, tweeted that she heard ‘’gunshots’’ as well as screams and sirens from her office near Oxford Circus, and posted video of people running away from the station.
‘’Never seen such panic. People flooded into our offices, looking for shelter, shaking,’’ she wrote.
Pop singer Olly Murs was among those caught up in the incident in a department store on Oxford Street.
In a series of tweets from his @ollyoffical account, the former X Factor contestant wrote: “F*** everyone get out of @Selfridges now gun shots!! I’m inside
“Really not sure what’s happened! I’m in the back office... but people screaming and running towards exits!
“Evacuating store now!!! F*** heart is pounding”
People were seen running away from Oxford Circus station in tears.
A huge cordon was put in place straddling some of the capital’s busiest shopping streets, which was being expanded as the situation developed, while shops on Oxford Street and Regent Street were also being evacuated.
A witness at DataXu on Ramillies Street, just off Oxford Street,said several of her colleagues could hear what sounded like a shot being fired.
She told the Press Association: “People have just been running past, the police have been moving away towards Tottenham Court Road.
“People here (colleagues) said they thought they heard a shot - one shot, or a bang.”
A woman, in her 20s from Birmingham, who was visiting her brother, said she was just off Oxford Street when the incident happened - getting split up from her brother in the melee.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “I was with my brother on Argyll Street, suddenly there were lots of people panicking - it was just running and panicking.
“This was at around 5pm. I got split up from my brother and he is now in a shop somewhere on Argyll Street.”
British Transport Police said: “At this stage, we have received one report of a woman sustaining a minor injury when leaving Oxford Circus station. There are no other reported casualties.”
Both Oxford Circus and Bond Street Tube stations are closed.
London Fire Brigade said three fire engines and 15 firefighters at the scene.
An eyewitness overlooking the Tube station from his office told BBC 5 live said: “I can see about 17 police cars, lots of normal police officers, almost like an army of them.
“I can see a number of police officers with machine guns. They came racing up in a very fast car and ran down into Oxford Circus Tube.
“Now it is calming down a bit. The police presence is heavy here. It was amazing to see the super quick response.”