Waterstones rescue operation plays out over Twitter

A tense rescue operation played out last night over Twitter after an American tourist found himself locked inside a bookshop for nearly three hours.

David Willis from Dallas, Texas entered the Trafalgar Square branch of Waterstones shortly before its closing time of 9 o'clock last night, only to find 15 minutes later that he had been locked inside.

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Mr Willis' initial plea for help fell on deaf ears as the Waterstones social media team finish work at 5:30pm and so did not receive his tweet asking for assistance.

At around 10pm he posted a picture of the closed shutters from within the store and updated his followers regarding the situation.

"This is me locked inside a waterstones bookstore in London," he wrote. "I was upstairs for 15 minutes and came down to all the lights out and door locked. Been here over an hour now. Supposedly someone is on their way."

Despite the ordeal gaining traction online as it was picked up by more Twitter users, Mr Willis was forced to issue another cry for help when it appeared there was no rescue planned.

"Hi @Waterstones I've been locked inside of your Trafalgar Square bookstore for 2 hours now. Please let me out," he tweeted.

The predicament eventually gathered so much attention that the hashtag #WaterstonesTexan began trending on the micro-blogging site. BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine even tweeted at Mr Willis, "Help is coming. Hang on in there mate."

However, Mr Willis' ordeal was only finally over once Twitter users got the authorities involved, with a Met Police spokesman confirming that the tourist was "released between 11.05pm and 11.20pm."

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Mr Willis himself only updated followers at 12.24pm, simply saying "I'm free." Waterstones themselves also confirmed the news but did not reveal if they had offered Mr Willis any book vouchers to make up for the ordeal.

Image Credit: Adam Bowie