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Home secretary calls Plymouth shootings ‘tragic beyond words’ as residents fear going outdoors

Written by on 14/08/2021

The home secretary has described the Plymouth shootings as “tragic beyond words”, as questions are raised over why the man responsible was allowed to have a gun.

Priti Patel visited the scene of the killings in the Keyham area of the city on Saturday, where she laid flowers alongside local Labour MP Luke Pollard and Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer.

Speaking to residents at a nearby park, she said: “It’s tragic beyond words, really, really tragic, for a range of reasons, and obviously for those involved.”

It came after hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to the victims at a candlelit vigil on Friday.

Flowers and balloons have been placed at various sites near the crime scene, as communities in Plymouth come to terms with what happened.

Meanwhile the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched an investigation into how killer Jake Davison acquired his weapon – after his licence was revoked last December following an allegation of assault months earlier.

The watchdog will look at why his firearm licence was restored the Devon and Cornwall force at the beginning of July – just a month before he used it to kill five people – and then himself.

More on Plymouth

Leader of Plymouth City Council Nick Kelly said that people living the area are still reluctant to leave their homes.

Balloons in Plymouth bear the names of Thursday's victims
Image: Balloons in Plymouth bear the names of Thursday’s victims
Floral tributes and soft toy tributes left outside the Lidl supermarket on Wolesley Road, near Biddick Drive in the Keyham area of Plymouth where six people, including the offender, died of gunshot wounds in a firearms incident Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday August 13, 2021.
Image: Flowers have appeared at several sites around the crime scene

He told BBC Breakfast: “At the moment people are a little bit reluctant to come outside their doors, they are still in a state of shock.

“Certainly the centres had a lot of community help workers but very few residents have actually come up and taken advantage of that.”

Mr Kelly says most people he has encountered just want a “hug and reassurance things will get better”.

He also raised questions about gun licensing laws, adding that the IOPC probe could reveal wider issues around gun scrutiny nationally.

“My own view with regards to guns is I think why do you need a gun in the first place?” he asked.

“We just need to review it, look at the facts in this specific case and hopefully if tighter legislation is required that will be forthcoming.”

A woman holds back tears as she lays flowers in memory of the victims
Image: A woman holds back tears as she lays flowers in memory of the victims

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer echoed his words on Saturday.

“How on earth did he get a gun licence in the first place?” he said. “What back-up checks were done?

“I do think there are wider questions here and that could involve a review of the gun licensing laws because there are other questions here that urgently need to be addressed.”

Former chief crown prosecutor for the North West Nazir Arfzal said he believes Davison’s social media posts in the run-up to the attack were not considered when re-issuing his gun licence.

“None of that seems to have been taken into account,” he said.

A minute's silence will be held in the city on Monday to pay tribute to the victims
Image: Residents in Plymouth held a candlelit vigil

When asked if the police might not have been aware of Davison’s social media posts, Mr Afzal said: “That must be the case, I would hope that’s the case.

“If they were aware then they have got even more questions to be asked.”

Davison, 22, shot and killed his 51-year-old mother Maxine Davison, also known as Maxine Chapman, at a house in Biddick Drive, Plymouth, on Thursday.

Three of the five victims of the Plymouth mass shooting (L/R): Sophie Martyn, her father Lee Martyn, and the gunman's mother Maxine Davison
Image: Three of the five victims of the Plymouth mass shooting (L/R): Sophie Martyn, her father Lee Martyn, and the gunman’s mother Maxine Davison
Jake Davison carried out the UK's deadliest mass shooting since 2010
Image: Jake Davison turned the gun on himself after killing his victims

He then went outside onto the street and shot dead Sophie Martyn, three, and her father Lee Martyn, 43.

Shortly after he killed Stephen Washington, 59, in a nearby park, before shooting Kate Shepherd, 66, in Henderson Place. She later died at Derriford Hospital.

Davison also shot at two other residents – a man aged 33 and a 53-year-old woman – leaving them injured, but not in a life-threatening condition.

 Sky News

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