Two armed police officers handcuffed a schoolboy when he was seen playing with a toy gun.
A dramatic image showed the boy on the ground on a street in Droitwich, Worcestershire.
The officers had bundled him to the floor while walking home from a friend’s house at 6 pm on Thursday.
But the operation proved to be a false alarm when the teen, wearing army-style combats, was carrying a red plastic toy rifle.
Police said they returned the boy home and gave him “appropriate advice”.
Eyewitness James Hall, 34, from Worcester, said: “It just happened out of nowhere, to be honest with you.
“I was in a car travelling behind the police. The police stopped, jumped out, and pointed their weapons at the individual in question.
“He seemed confused about what was going on and then sort of laid down on the ground.”
Hall said it was hard to tell how old the boy was because he wore a balaclava and sunglasses.
He added: “I think the lad must have had a scare, but you can’t blame people for being worried if they see someone in camo gear waving a gun around.”
Following the incident, West Mercia Police tweeted: “NO CAUSE FOR CONCERN – We want to reassure all residents living in the Primsland Way and Addyes Way area of Droitwich who may have seen armed police in the area that there is nothing to worry about.
“Just before 6 pm, police were called following sightings of a man dressed in combat gear, wearing a balaclava and carrying a gun on the above roads.
“Armed police attended and apprehended the person who, it turned out, was a youngster dressed up and carrying a toy gun.
“Police returned the youngster home where appropriate advice was given.”