The suspect who is thought to have shot dead an off-duty policeman who tried to intervene in a violent neighbourhood dispute shunned guns while working as a volunteer at a clay pigeon club, it emerged today.
Peter Reeve worked as a handyman at the Clacton Gun Club in Essex and helped to clear up the site but he only ever had one go when encouraged by other members, officials said today.
PC Ian Dibell, 41, was killed in Clacton-on-Sea on Monday afternoon after it is thought he intervened in a row in which another man was shot.
Reeve, the suspected gunman, was later found dead with a handgun outside All Saints Church, in Writtle, near Chelmsford, about 40 miles away from the murder scene.
"Literally he shot at one clay and said: 'this isn't for me'," said Graham Cave, the secretary and security officer at Clacton Gun Club.
"I never saw him touch a gun after that," he added.
Mr Cave said he got the impression that he only went to the club for company. He was a typical "grumpy old man" but gave little sign of the future violence.
Detectives have said Reeve was not known to police and did not hold a license for the weapon and ammunition.
Today, Jim Barker-McCardle, the chief constable of Essex police, paid tribute to PC Dibell.
“Ian's tragic death reminds us all that it's not the uniform that makes a police officer but the instinctive, brave and selfless help to others," he said.
He added: “He was personable, charming, always immaculately dressed and very popular with his colleagues.
"I have no doubt that Ian knew of the danger he was facing when he stepped in to protect a member of the public whilst off duty and without any thought for his own safety.
"He had an incredible devotion to his community – a devotion which led to his paying the ultimate price.”
PC Dibell had served in Clacton-on-Sea since 2009.
Before that he had spent eight years working as both a neighbourhood and response officer in Colchester.
Essex police said a “live” murder enquiry continues into PC Dibell’s death.