Gunman hunted after third drug killing in London

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The Independent Online
DETECTIVES were questioning four men last night about the murder of Constable Patrick Dunne while armed officers searched for a gunman in west London after another drug-related killing.

Three of the men being questioned were arrested yesterday morning 'as a result of information received' when their car was stopped near where PC Dunne died in a hail of bullets on Wednesday night in Clapham, south London, after going to a domestic dispute on his bicycle. A fourth man was arrested later in Leicester and brought to London last night.

Scotland Yard disclosed that 17 bullets were fired in the incident on Wednesday night from an automatic pistol, which is still being sought. Some were fired at PC Dunne by one of three men emerging from a house on the opposite side of the street where the body of a local drugs dealer was also discovered; he had also been shot. Another man was found in the rear garden of the house with some cannabis; he was questioned and released. The three men who fled were said to have been laughing.

The dead dealer, who has not been named, had been under surveillance by area drugs squad detectives, who had withdrawn several hours earlier after he had returned to the house. Detectives are still attempting to establish whether the house was a crack dealing centre.

As tributes flowed in last night to PC Dunne, 44, - described by colleagues as a 'perfect gentleman' - his death seemed likely to intensify the debate about containing drug-related violence and whether controlled legalisation should considered as a radical solution. The killing also fuelled arguments over whether police should be routinely armed.

Staff at the officer's former school, the Deane School, in Bolton, Greater Manchester, spoke of the 'gentle giant who would take no nonsense'. PC Dunne, who was about 6ft 3in, taught maths there for 15 years before leaving in 1986.

In an unrelated incident in the Shepherd's Bush area of west London yesterday afternoon, a man died after being shot in the chest.

Police said an altercation between two men led to a chase which ended outside the underground station entrance. There, the victim was shot in the chest at close range. He died in hospital.

Armed officers mounted a huge search of the area, at one point surrounding a building near by after reports that the gunman had taken refuge there. Detective Superintendent Bob Fenton, who is leading the inquiry, said of the dead man: 'People who knew him have said there was a drugs link.'

Some Conservative MPs renewed calls for the return of the death penalty and senior Tory backbenchers confirmed that the Commons is to be given a free vote on the return of capital punishment for several categories of murder, including killing police officers, early in the next session of Parliament.

Sir Ivan Lawrence QC, Tory chairman of the cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee, said it was expected that Tory MPs would table amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill. Their chances of success are viewed as slight.