15 Aug Plymouth shootings: Priti Patel describes deaths as ‘tragic beyond words’ as residents fear going outdoors | UK News
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.
A minute’s silence was also observed before the start of Plymouth Argyle’s 1-0 win of Gillingham on Saturday.
Player Luke Jephcott, who scored the winner in the closing minutes, tweeted: “Words can’t describe how that felt, thank you to the amazing fans. That one was for the city of Plymouth and the 5.”
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Conduct (IOPC) has launched an investigation into how killer Jake Davison acquired his weapon – after his licence was revoked last December following an allegation of assault months earlier.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.
Leader of Plymouth City Council Nick Kelly said that people living the area are still reluctant to leave their homes.
He said: “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.”
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.
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.
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.
Devon and Cornwall Police are encouraging people to come forward with information, and have set up an online platform to do so at mipp.police.uk/operation/50DC21E73-PO1.