UP to 10 police cars and an armed response team descended on a Burton street after reports of a gunman roaming the area.
But after arriving, officers found no weapon and now believe the 999 call to report the incident may have been a hoax.
Inspector Tyrone Kerr, of Staffordshire Police, told the Mail: “We can’t say for definite whether this was a hoax call, but we are investigating the possibility.”
Police were phoned at 10.30pm on Wednesday by a caller who said a man was standing in Westfield Road, Horninglow, with a firearm.
An armed response team was dispatched and an area was cordoned off while police questioned the alleged gunman and searched his home. No weapon was discovered.
Insp Kerr said: “The telephone numbers concerned and other pieces of information have been passed on and an investigation will be carried out.”
Speaking about the large-scale police response to the incident, he added: “We are satisfied that while our attendance was appropriate based on the reports we received, it was not necessary.”
Witnesses described seeing between six and 10 police cars outside the Royal Oak pub car park in nearby Horninglow Road North.
No-one has been arrested in connection with the incident, but police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.
A spokesman said: “Police were called following a report of a man believed to be in possession of a firearm outside a property. Both armed and unarmed officers were deployed to the scene.
“Officers engaged with a man at the address and it was established he had not left the address all evening. A search of the property for firearms proved negative.
“High-visibility patrols have been stepped up in the area to reassure members of the local community.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police by dialling 101, quoting incident number 650 of January 9.