Mother and children ran away screaming from gun wielding man dressed like Darth Vader

An appeal for witnesses has been made
An appeal for witnesses has been made

A mother and her two children ran away screaming after a man dressed like Darth Vader knelt down and pointed a gun at them in a park.

Nicola Steven, 43, from Haywards Heath, was walking with her two seven-year-old children and her dog in Ditchling Common on Sunday (July 19) when a man dressed in robes and armour appear from a bush in the path in front of them, knelt on the ground, and pulled out a rifle

“I can’t tell you the sheer fear that went through me,” Nicola said. “I told the kids to run run run back to the car we were terrified, we had quite a long run back down the hill and all I could think of was that this person was soon going to shoot us in the back!”

Nicola called the police who investigated and informed her two men were out in costume doing a photo shoot with plastic weapons.

But she didn’t understand why the man watched her run away screaming, without calling out to her to explain.

“It was absolutely horrific. That, to me, is really serious. If someone did that in an airport they’d be shot.”

She said she was about 200 meters away from the man when he appeared from the bush and about 100 meters away when she lifted her sunglasses to look at the strangely clothed man more clearly.

“As I neared to the black figure that was stood face on in the distance he started to get down on one knee and produced a long rifle from his side and bowing his head down into his target he pointed it straight at us.”

She said she was still uncertain whether the action was supposed to scare her as she felt that he was purposefully aiming the gun at her.

She said thankfully her children didn’t see the man as they were busy playing fetch with the dog but they were shaken by seeing their mother so frightened.

Sussex Police said: “Police were called to a report of a costumed man with a gun at Ditchling Common on Sunday afternoon (July 19). He had been seen by a woman who was with her two children.

“Officers attended and spoke to two men who were undertaking a photo shoot using plastic sci-fi weapons and costumes raising money for children’s charities. They were reported to be embarrassed and apologetic.”

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