Friends and family of 43-year-old Dave Crudge have called for an immediate investigation after the ‘popular and friendly’ father was accidentally shot by armed police officers on Southend Seafront this afternoon.

A police spokesperson has confirmed that the ‘obese and hairy’ male was mistaken for a gorilla who was said to be cuddling a small child at the time.

Witnesses observed seeing an armed team of officers swoop towards Mr Crudge while he was enjoying a pint outside the packed Golden Carpet pub on Marine Parade, and it is alleged that he was shot twice with no prior warning given due to officers believing that he wouldn’t be able to understand basic speech.

Det Ins Reginald Bodge said: ‘It is with regret that we confirm that Mr Crudge was shot by armed officers while sitting outside the Golden Carpet on Southend Seafront on Thursday.’

‘A member of the public contacted 999 shortly after 12pm to say that an escaped gorilla had been spotted holding a young boy outside of the establishment, and as he was topless and incredibly hairy we can understand why she would have jumped to this conclusion.’

‘We immediately sent a radio message to three uniformed police officers in the area, and after attending the scene from a safe distance they all confirmed that the gorilla ID had a possibility level of 85%.’

‘This is 10% higher than the required threshold to authorise an armed presence at the scene.’

‘We contacted the nearest animal facility at Colchester Zoo to ask if all gorillas had been accounted for, and unfortunately their head zookeeper couldn’t count them all as they were constantly running around and waving bananas a lot.’

‘Therefore we had to make a snap decision in the interests of public safety.’

Det Ins Bodge added: ‘Our resident animal control officer told us that due to the size and build of our target, a tranquiliser dart would have taken too long to start working, and therefore I gave the command to try and neutralise the target without posing any risk to other members of the public.’

‘Unfortunately, we first knew that something wasn’t quite right when he was shot in the foot and he screamed ‘what the f**k are you doing you silly pr*ck.’

‘This is when it became clear that we were not dealing with a potentially deadly primate of the animal kingdom.’

‘Now that we are able to look at the incident in hindsight, the Staffordshire Terrier and pint of Stella Artois were probably elements that we should have recognised as well.’