A HUGE police operation to capture a man named on a list of East Lancashire’s ‘most wanted’ ended with him evading arrest.
Witnesses said around 15 police cars and vans, a helicopter, three fire engines and an ambulance were called to Blackburn Road in Darwen late on Wednesday night.
A Lancashire Telegraph reader had told police Nathan Posteraro, named in the newspaper that day as wanted in connection with an assault, was hiding out there.
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Firefighters helped with a rooftop hunt and shop freezers were even searched but a police spokesman said Posteraro ‘slipped through the net’ after the two-hour operation which ended at 1am yesterday.
Sources told the Lancashire Telegraph the 23-year-old fugitive was never on the roof, and was instead taunting officers over the phone.
One man, who did not want to be named, had a copy of a search warrant given to him by officers and said he was a friend of Posteraro.
He said: “The police came to my house looking for Nathan, but I wasn’t in. I was driving past and I saw a riot van outside the house.
“I said I wasn’t going home while they were there and left.
“They searched my house and they said he was on the roof because somebody threw a brick at their van but he wasn’t there.
“The coppers were even talking to Nathan on the phone when he was standing around outside.
“He was saying he was on the phone and the police were saying, ‘no, you are on the roof’.”
A number of businesses and homes were searched by officers hunting Posteraro, who is accused of punching a doorman at Darwen nightspot Hot Shots in October, and driving while disqualified.
He has been on the run since November, and his last known address was Dove Street, Darwen.
A worker at Big Baps sandwich shop, also in Blackburn Road, said she was forced to open up to allow police inside.
She said: “I told them he wasn’t here and that the shutters were down, but they wanted to search inside. They even looked in the freezers.
“We even had Nathan on the phone to say that he was not here but the police did not believe it was him.
“He was walking past while the police were here.”
Witnesses described the scene, which attracted crowds of passers-by, who stood in the street to watch the unfolding drama.
A worker at the Dixyland Chicken and Ribs takeaway, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “In the last two hours, I didn’t make any money because everybody was just outside.
“It was like being at the seaside. There were even children watching. There was between 15 and 20 police cars.”
A dozen firefighters manning two engines and an aerial ladder platform also attended, as did an ambulance.
A Lancashire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “We received a call from police, who said there was a man on the roof of a two-storey building in Blackburn Road, Darwen, at 11.09pm.
“Police said the man in question was confined in a block of seven buildings and was throwing objects at police.
“We assisted with a roof top search, and were then told we were no longer required.”
A spokeswoman for the North West Ambulance Service added: “We were called at 11.22pm to Lloyd Street, off Blackburn Road, to reports of a male on the roof.
“We arrived on the scene but we were stood down by police at 12.55am.”
A police spokeswoman said: “We had intelligence that suggested Nathan Posteraro was at an address in Blackburn Road.
“We forced entry to the address, and we believed he was on the roof.
“Officers contained the area, but he slipped through the net.
“We do believe it was him, and we do believe he was in the area.”
Anybody with information can call police on 101, or can contact Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111, or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.