Police say five people have been killed in a rare mass shooting in the United Kingdom after a gunman opened fire on a house in the city of Plymouth in southwest England.
Armed police and paramedics were sent to the Keyham area of Plymouth, near the city’s docks, at about 6:10pm (17:10 GMT) in response to what was described as a “serious firearms incident” on Thursday evening.
Four people – “two females and two males” – were confirmed dead at the scene while a third woman died in hospital, Devon and Cornwall Police said in a statement early on Friday morning.
Luke Pollard, a local MP, said a young girl was among those killed on an incident he described as “unspeakably awful”.
“A further male, believed to be the offender was also deceased at the scene. All are believed to have died from gunshot wounds,” the police statement said.
“Devon & Cornwall Police would stress this is not a terrorism-related incident,” it added.
The UK has strict rules on gun ownership and one of the lowest rates for gun killings in the world. Mass shootings are rare and gun regulations were tightened further after a man with the legal right to own a firearm burst into a primary school in the Scottish town of Dunblane in 1996 and opened fire on children and teachers, killing 17.
Sharron Turner who lives behind the scene of the shooting, told The Times newspaper that a gunman had “kicked in” the front door of a semidetached house before shooting a young mother and her daughter, who was aged about five. Turner, 57, said she had been told that the man, who was dressed in black and grey, was armed with a semi-automatic weapon.
The gunman then escaped through a park behind the house.
“We heard a number of loud bangs which I said sounded like gunshots,” the paper quoted Turner as saying. “Then he ran into the park and there were further shots.”
British Home Secretary Priti Patel described the incident as “shocking” and urged people to follow police advice.
Update: police have confirmed that six people have died in the shooting in #keyham in #plymouth. More people are being treated for their injuries in hospital. Just so unspeakably awful. My condolences and thoughts are with the families.
— Luke Pollard MP (@LukePollard) August 12, 2021
Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition, also expressed shock at what had happened.
“It’s clear tragedy has hit Keyham,” Starmer wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts are with the families and neighbours of those caught up in this nightmare. I pay tribute to our emergency services who ran towards events we’d all run from.”
Police have cordoned off the area and said investigations were continuing.