Man shot dead had replica weapon

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The Independent Online
A GUN being brandished by a burglar who was shot when he pointed the weapon at a police marksman was a replica, it emerged yesterday.

The man, believed to be in his 30s, was seen on Thursday hanging out of a first-floor window in a block of flats in Clarendon Street, Bedford, shouting threats at police and taking aim with what turned out to be a replica Colt .45 automatic pistol. He died of a single gunshot wound to his chest.

Bedfordshire Police said the marksman who shot the man - and who had more than five years' experience in the firearms squad - was taken off firearms duty after the incident, but was not suspended.

Bedfordshire assistant chief constable Anthony Howlett-Bolton said: "We regret this has happened but we must warn people that replica firearms have to be treated as real. [The] incident is a sad reflection of what can happen."

A police spokesman said it was the first time in more than 20 years that a Bedfordshire firearms officer had opened fire during an incident. An investigation - said to be standard procedure - is under way.