Page last updated at 09:11 GMT, Saturday, 27 December 2003

Force 'shocked' at fatal shooting

Shooting scene in Leeds
Police cordoned off Dib Lane where the shooting happened
A police officer has died and another is seriously injured after they were gunned down by a man they stopped in a stolen car in Leeds.

Fellow officers have spoken of their "shock" at the way their unarmed colleagues were attacked on Friday.

However one senior officer said that shock had "rapidly changed into a grim determination to seek out and arrest the offender".

The traffic officers were shot after approaching a "suspiciously" parked BMW in Dib Lane, east Leeds.

They had run a check on the car's number plates, found out they were false and established the car had been stolen.

Shot repeatedly

The shooting took place as the stolen car was being transferred to a towing truck, and the driver was being questioned in the police car.

Police deaths on duty
1980 to 1989 - 30 officers killed
1990 to 1999 - 18 officers killed
2000 to present - eight officers killed

While one officer sat in the front of the car taking details, the second opened a back door to arrest the suspect.

At that point, he drew a gun and shot both officers repeatedly.

One, a 34-year-old married man, died of his wounds shortly after arriving at a Leeds hospital.

His wife was said to be "distraught, deeply distressed and in a state of disbelief".

The other officer, a man in his 40s, is undergoing surgery for wounds which are not thought to be life threatening.

Gunman 'stocky'

Detective Superintendent Chris Gregg, of West Yorkshire Police, said the injured man had been able to give them a description of the car and the gunman before he went into surgery.

"To say that everyone in the force is shocked and staggered is a huge understatement," said Det Supt Gregg.

High profile police deaths
1984 - Pc Yvonne Fletcher shot dead outside Libyan Embassy
1985 - Pc Keith Blakelock killed in Broadwater Farm riots
1992 - Special Constable Glen Goodman killed by IRA near Tadcaster
1993 - Pc Patrick Dunne shot dead investigating a shooting in Clapham, London
1995 - Trainee Pc Philip Walters shot investigating a domestic incident in Ilford, east London
1997 - Pc Nina Mackay knifed by paranoid schizophrenic in London
2000 - Pc John Odell hit by a car in Margate, Kent
2003 - Det Con Stephen Oake stabbed to death in Special Branch raid in Manchester

"We're determined to hunt down the person responsible for this murder of an officer who was just routinely going about his duties."

He gave a description of the gunman: a white man, of stocky build, in his 30s or 40s and with a tanned or olive complexion.

The gunman ran off down Dib Lane, past a row of shops, shooting indiscriminately as he went.

He threatened a passer-by who police would also like to trace.

He then stopped at a car which was parked outside a shop, ordered out its two occupants at gun point and used it to escape.

Police are now hunting the getaway car - a green Rover 6 series with the registration number L410 PMB - and driver.

It was "vital" Mr Gregg said, to find this car.

Jan Berry, the chairwoman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "This tragedy highlights the growing dangers police officers can face every day when serving and protecting their local communities."

Keith Hellawell, a former chief constable for West Yorkshire Police, told BBC News the death penalty should be reintroduced for people who kill police officers.

He said: "We ought to make it clear to people that if you shoot a police officer you are going to hang if you are convicted."

video and audio news
The BBC's John Thorne
"Detectives have appealed for more witnesses to come forward"



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