Doorman sought in hunt for killer of policeman

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The Independent Online

A nightclub doorman from the United States was being sought yesterday by detectives in Leeds hunting a gunman who killed a police officer, wounded a colleague and fired at a third officer.

Police said they wanted to question Nathan Wayne Coleman, 37, who has lived in Britain for about four years, after officers raided a flat in the Oakwell area of Leeds close to where the gunman's getaway car, a green Rover 600, was found abandoned. Mr Coleman lived at the flat and was last seen there on Boxing Day about 6pm, about two hours after the shootings. The officer who died, PC Ian Broadhurst, 34, is the first member of the West Yorkshire force to be shot dead in 19 years.

The suspect is believed to have worked as a nightclub doorman at various clubs in West Yorkshire.

"We need to talk to this man as a matter of urgency," said Detective Superintendent Chris Gregg, who is leading the murder inquiry. "We don't know where he might be but we're making the assumption he's still in this country."

The officers were shot while trying to arrest a suspect they spotted in a stolen car, partly parked on a pavement near a row of shops in Dib Lane, Oakwell. Minutes before the attack, the gunman told officers he was born in Canada. He had an apparent North American accent.

The search for Mr Coleman involves the FBI and Interpol, and will draw on an interview West Yorkshire Police have conducted with Mr Coleman's former wife, who is from Yorkshire and still lives in the area. Detectives said he told her he came from Florida.

Police said Mr Coleman has no criminal record in this country. The FBI in Miami said he appeared to have no record of federal offences in the United States and there was no record of any crimes in Florida.

When the three officers approached the killer he was sitting in the driver's seat of a stolen BMW reading the Racing Post. Minutes later, he was firing with lethal accuracy.

PC Broadhurst's partner, PC Neil Roper, 45, from Wakefield, was shot twice and is recovering in hospital. A third officer, PC James Banks, 26, escaped injury when a bullet ricocheted off his radio belt and the buckle on his baton.

"What is unusual is that he didn't give the officers a chance, by threatening them with the weapon first," Det Supt Gregg said. "They would have withdrawn, had a man threatened them like that. Why he acted so quickly, we don't know. We are not excluding the possibility that [he] could still be armed."

The gunman's ability to hit his target with each shot suggested he was experienced with firearms, Det Supt Gregg said.

Detectives said Mr Coleman had been living on his own in the flat in a block of 16 homes in Oakwood.Officers did not reveal whether any travel documents were discovered at the flat, which is located about one and a half miles from the scene of the shooting.

Last night, armed police remained at the flat.Scores of officers carried out a search and forensic examination of the property during the day.

Don Gowland, 70, a retired taxi driver who lives opposite the block of flats with his wife, Sheila, said he had had a dispute with Mr Coleman over a parking space. "When he looked at you, he looked right through you," he said. "There was something about him. I wouldn't tackle him.''

Another neighbour, Ronald Moss, 82, said he had told Mr Coleman that he was the unofficial environment officer for the area and asked him to keep things tidy. "I thought he was going to get violent and he just turned away. He was never in any way aggressive. I have not seen him for some time."