Page last updated at 05:00 GMT, Monday, 1 December 2008

Police shoot man near cathedral

Police guarding the grounds of Guildford Cathedral
Police have sealed off the grounds of the cathedral

A man was shot dead by police within what are believed to be the grounds of Guildford cathedral in Surrey.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the shooting took place after police responded to reports of an armed man.

Investigators from the IPCC were called to the incident, which happened at 1500 GMT on Sunday.

The IPCC said the shooting took place "near to" the cathedral, but did not confirm the specific location.

However, according to a woman connected to the church, the incident took place within the cathedral's grounds.

"We had to cancel an advent carol service to which 500-plus people were due to attend," she added.

Forensic evidence

An IPCC spokesman said later: "The cathedral at the moment has had to be closed while the investigation is under way because the shooting took place very close to the cathedral and therefore it is part of the scene.

"While the forensic people and the pathologist are there the cathedral has to remain closed to preserve the integrity of the scene. "We are doing all we can to vacate the scene, to get the evidence we need, and for the cathedral to reopen as soon as possible."

Residents of nearby Benbrick Road said they heard the police helicopter hovering over their homes and saw officers descend on the area.

A couple who live in the road said last Sunday they had taken their young children to play in the cathedral grounds.

The woman, who asked only to be known as Vicky, said: "It's a shock to the system. My kids could have been playing in that field. We moved to a quiet area only to find that happening on our doorstep."

Armed officers

Her partner said the police helicopter appeared around 1330 GMT.

He added that he was shocked by the shooting: "It's on religious grounds but crime goes on everywhere."

In a statement the IPCC said: "The IPCC investigators already deployed to the scene are in Guildford and will provide an assessment for IPCC Commissioner Rebecca Marsh, following a referral of the shooting by Surrey Police.

"The police had deployed armed officers following reports of an armed man earlier this afternoon."

Mrs Marsh sent her condolences to the dead man's family and friends.

She added: "I would like to reassure the man's family, the public and the police officers that the IPCC investigation will be thorough, proportionate and timely."

A spokesman for Surrey Police said they were unable to disclose any information about the shooting.

Guildford Cathedral featured in the 1976 horror movie, The Omen.



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