LONDON—Six people were killed late Thursday after a man opened fire on a quiet cul-de-sac in the southwestern city of Plymouth, in what a local newspaper described as “the city’s darkest day in decades.”
One of the victims was said to have been a child, according to a tweet from local lawmaker Luke Pollard.
Sharron Turner, a witness who said she lives behind the area where gunfire erupted, told The Times a gunman had “kicked in” the front door of a semi-detached house before shooting a young mother and her daughter, who was aged about 5. Turner said she had been told the shooter was armed with a semi-automatic weapon.
Police have not yet identified the victims or the gunman. In a statement from the Devon and Cornwall Police, those killed were described as three females and three males, including the suspected shooter, who was declared dead at the scene. Police have said they believe he shot himself.
One of the female victims had been “treated at the scene for gunshot wounds” but “died in the hospital a short time later,” the statement said. PlymouthLive reported that the majority of those killed were not known to the gunman.
In comments to the BBC, a witness who identified herself as Sharron—apparently the same neighbor who spoke to The Times—described the chaotic moments in further detail.
“Firstly, there was shouting, followed by gunshots–three, possibly four to begin with,” she said. “This was when the shooter kicked in the door of a house and randomly started shooting… he ran from the house shooting as he ran and proceeded to shoot at a few people in the Linear Park up from the drive.”
Witnesses quoted in local media said two of the victims were dog walkers.
“I heard the air ambulance helicopters, and two of them landed in the playing field behind us,” one resident identified as John told The Daily Mail. “Then we could hear police cars screeching and we saw armed response officers running up the hill, carrying guns. And loads of ambulances arrived. I went out to check that people were all right and to ask if there was anything we could do, and the Police Community Support Officers told everyone to get back indoors.”
“Then we saw the ambulances take people away. It all seemed to be happening at the man’s family home, I think. People are saying that the man has killed himself. He’s only a young guy, late teens or early 20s.”
A 54-year-old man named Robert Pinkerton told PlymouthLive that he heard a “loud bang.” He then “walked around the corner,” he said, where he “bumped into a bloke with a shotgun” and quickly “swerved.”
The Devon and Cornwall police were called to the scene at 6:10 p.m. for what they described as a “serious firearm incident” in Biddick Drive. At 6:12 p.m., the South Western Ambulance Service was alerted too. They responded with “a significant number of resources, including hazardous area response teams, multiple ambulances, air ambulances, multiple doctors and senior paramedics,” they said. Four helicopter ambulances were deployed.
The police said that they are treating the shooting as a domestic incident and not a “terror-related matter.” They said investigators will examine the phones, computers, and other evidence from the shooter's home.
The incident is the first mass shooting in the United Kingdom in 11 years. Handguns have been banned in England, Wales, and Scotland, since 16 first graders and their gym teacher were shot dead in the 1996 Dunblane massacre.