Dead gunman 'in access battle over child'

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The Independent Online

A gunman who shot himself dead after an overnight stand-off with police may have been locked in a battle to get access to his child.

The dead man, named locally as Idi Atiba, 31, suffered fatal injuries when he blasted a sawn-off shotgun into his chest.

The shot came after police worked through the night on Leagrave Common, in Luton, Beds, to persuade him to give himself up peacefully.

Friends of Mr Atiba said the confrontation began after an argument with his former girlfriend, who lives in a block beside the parkland.

One woman, whose garden backs on to the park, told the Daily Mail that the gunman said to police that she would not let him see his child.

She said: "He was telling officers he won't budge and was prepared to stay there for the next two days."

The stand-off began after police responded to a 999 call claiming a gunman was walking around the Marsh Farm Estate, scene of several riots in the 1990s.

They traced Mr Atiba to Leagrave Common at about 8.30pm and brought in up to 20 officers including dog handlers and specialist negotiators.

Pictures of the scene showed police marksmen huddled behind a bullet-proof shield with Mr Atiba standing a short distance away.

The stand-off ended in tragedy shortly before midday yesterday as the gunman approached a mobile phone thrown to him by police.

Witnesses said he stood up and walked towards it as police shouted to him to keep the gun down before sitting down again and pulling the trigger.

Armed police and paramedics rushed to his side but he died several hours later before he could be taken to hospital by air ambulance.

It is believed that a baton round, a large plastic encased bullet, was fired by one officer as they approached the wounded man.

Mr Atiba knew the area of parkland well as he had played football on pitches there for Sundon Park Rangers.

His Facebook page shows an image of a sleeping baby girl and says he was originally from Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.

Other social networking sites show images of him posing with his girlfriend, although he described himself as "looking for love".

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an investigation into the shooting.

A spokesman said: "Investigators have subsequently begun an independent investigation and establishing the exact sequence of events will form part of the IPCC investigation."

A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said: "The incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Bedfordshire Police are co-operating fully."