A man is thought to have suffered life-threatening head injuries in a firearms incident in Devizes this afternoon.

The centre of the town was closed as police firearms officers and an ambulance went to the offices of David Nolder & Co, a solicitors in the same building as Morris Goddard & Ward, St John’s Street, at about 3pm today.

A police spokesman later said that a man had been injured and was taken by ambulance to Frenchay Hospital, near Bristol, for treatment.

Simon Fisher, deputy town clerk at Devizes Town Council, said: “Someone came into the town hall and said there’s been a shooting in Morris Goddard & Ward solicitors.

"A short time before that some of us heard a bang - it sounded like a car backfiring or a car bumping into another car.

"One of our staff saw a male being carried out on a stretcher.

"The area around the town hall is cordoned off.”

Police have cordoned off the road as far as The Silk Mercer Pub.

Inspector Nick Elton, senior officer at the scene, said: “We got the call at about 3pm that there was a man in the building with a gun.

"By the time we arrived, the firearm had been discharged and someone was injured. Both the victim and the suspect are both male.

“Working on information received, a man was arrested and is being held in custody. It is too early to say if he will be charged tonight.”

The gunman is thought to have driven away from the scene.

A man was was arrested about half an hour later at Rowde and taken to Melksham Police Station. Police recovered a weapon.

Matthew Williams from Market Lavington, who was shopping in Devizes at the time of the shooting, said: “People were quite shocked. This happened just opposite the town hall.

"The parking spaces are used by shoppers, right in front of the building where it happened.

“It’s a quiet town and it’s the last thing you would expect to happen."

Colin Garrett, manager of Edwin Giddings, in St John’s Street, said earlier: “It’s a bit of a shock, it’s not the sort of thing you would expect here.

“All the armed response officers have gone but the police are not allowing anyone near the scene as they are gathering evidence. Ambulance staff are still there, I imagine to help any of the office staff who must be shocked.

“Apparently the ambulance taking the injured person was given a police escort.”