A CROSSBOW bolt fired into the Oval during a cricket match today came so close to one player that he heard it whizz past him.
Surrey and Middlesex cricketers were rushed from the pitch when the umpire saw the bolt hurtle into the ground shortly before 5pm.
And Richard Gould, CEO of Surrey Cricket Club, confirmed the arrow came within ten metres of a player – with one steward telling The Sun the cricketer heard it fly past him.
He added that “it could very easily have killed someone”.
Officials reckon the metal bolt was fired from outside the ground but could not confirm whether it was intentionally aimed at the world famous South London arena.
Stunned witnesses told how they saw top players flee when the metal bolt flew from outside the stadium and landed on the pitch during the game.
Armed police flocked to the 25,000 capacity venue but Met Police said they were keeping an “open mind” around the motive – and said it was not believed to be terrorism-related.
Around 1,000 spectators were in the ground at the time of the incident.
One witness, Shiv, told The Sun Online he had been on the roof terrace, spotting the bolt fly over the stadium from outside.
He said: “I’ve seen it come over, it’s landed and the next thing we knew, security turned around and started evacuating all of the rooftop from where we were.”
He said he had been at the stadium for a corporate event, with friends and colleagues left stunned as cops ordered them to get out “as soon as possible” and “take cover”.
The young man said there had been a “slow realisation” in the crowd of what had happened.
Freelance journalist Ben Kosky told The Sun Online: “Basically, there was the last session of the match going on, with Surrey against Middlesex, and all of a sudden, the players all sprinted for the dressing room.
“There was a lot of confusion.”
He said crowds at first believed the players had left because of bad light, but then said a security staff member was spotted walking onto the field.
He said: “One of them picked up object, which have been shown to be an arrow.”
The bolt was fired from outside of the ground which led to an announcement around the stadium saying: “On the advice of our security team – please take cover. We urge you to move inside.”
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Colin Hunt, an eyewitness and Surrey committee member, said he saw the bolt hit the second wicket.
He said: “I was sitting in the members’ pavilion, the lower side of it, and I looked across and I saw a bolt hitting the second wicket, the spare wicket, from the far end of the OCS stand.
“I don’t know if it was from the ground or the outside.”
Middlesex fan Jeremy Lawrence saw players being rushed off the pitch shortly after the bolt landed.
He said: “I was sitting by the players’ entrance talking to a fan and all of a sudden I saw all of the players and the umpires run off the pitch.
“I thought, ‘it’s not raining, what’s going on?’ and one of the Surrey cricketers, Rikki Clarke, said ‘somebody’s fired an arrow onto the pitch’.”
Mr Lawrence said he thought it looked “like a crossbow arrow”, and that nobody was sure where it had come from.
“It was a very ghastly-looking thing,” he said.
He added: “It could have done damage to everybody, it’s by the good grace it hasn’t.”
Mr Lawrence, a regular attendee at the Oval, said he had “never seen anything like it”.
Mr Gould, CEO of Surrey CC, said: “We don’t know where it was fired from.
“It landed within ten metres of a player and was seen by the umpire .
“We don’t think it was fired from within he ground.
“We don’t know if it was deliberate or an act of mischief. But when this happens you have to assume the worst.”
All of a sudden, the players all sprinted for the dressing room
Another witness wrote on Twitter: “Bizarre finale at the Oval. Crossbow bolt fired from outside ground lands on outfield. Players taken off, public asked to move indoors.”
Surrey player Stuart Meaker wrote on Twitter: “Well…we have just officially gone off the field because a metal tipped arrow just landed on the pitch!”
Middlesex Cricket wrote: “Play suspended at the Oval on advice of security.
“Players have left the field after a crossbow bolt landed on the square.”
A Surrey spokesman said: “We were about to bowl the next ball and the arrow appeared two pitches to the side of the pitch we’re playing on at the moment.
“The umpires took it out of the ground and got the players off as quickly as possible.
“Everybody in the ground has now been asked to take cover, there is nobody out in the stands or out in the open in any form.
“All the seating hangs over the concourse, so they’re all under the seating at the moment in the concourse area, which is fully covered.
“We don’t know much more at the moment. We’re not sure if it’s deliberate or accidental or whether it’s come from inside or outside the ground.”
The match was abandoned.
Met Police carried out a controlled evacuation and confirmed there had been no reports of injuries.
A spokesman said: “At this early stage it is believed that the object came from outside of the ground.
“There have been no arrests.
“We retain an open mind as to motive. Enquiries continue.”
Anyone who has information concerning this incident should call officers from Lambeth by dialling 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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