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Gunshot As Alleged Thief Peddles 'Potter'


Jun 4, 9:57 PM (ET)

LONDON (AP) - A man who allegedly tried to sell a stolen copy of the forthcoming Harry Potter book to two tabloid newspapers fired a handgun next to the head of a reporter who came to meet him, police said Saturday. The reporter was not injured.

The Sun newspaper said its journalist agreed to meet two men who contacted the paper saying they had obtained copies of the highly anticipated book. The newspaper contacted police, who were waiting outside the meeting site in Kettering, 80 miles north of London, and arrested the two suspects on Friday.

The Daily Mirror newspaper also said it had been contacted about buying an early copy of the novel and sent a reporter to meet the men. The paper also contacted police before its meeting.

The Sun said that when its reporter attempted to leave the meeting carrying the book, one of the suspects put a handgun next to his head and fired a shot over the journalist's shoulder, police said.

Police said Saturday that officers had recovered the gun thought to have been used in the incident as well as an air rifle.

The newspapers said the man worked at a distribution warehouse where copies of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" are being stored ahead of their release on July 16. The sixth Harry Potter novel has sparked massive interest since Rowling revealed a major character will be killed.

"It was very hard" to get around security, the Mirror quoted him as saying. "The whole warehouse is on camera."

Police said they had arrested a 37-year-old and a 19-year-old. Their names were not released. The older man was charged with possessing the handgun, which is illegal in Britain, and handling stolen property. The teen was charged with theft and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear, police said.

Both were released on bail.

Lawyers for author J.K. Rowling got an injunction against the two barring any leaks from the stolen copies.