Double shooting shocks village

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The Independent Online

Villagers spoke of their shock today after a shooting incident left two men dead, including one in a churchyard.

Police were called to reports of gunfire at a house in Westbury-sub-Mendip, near Cheddar, Somerset, last night.

One man, named locally as Ray Masters, 58, died shortly after officers arrived.

A second body was discovered at the Parish Church of St Lawrence, where a white police tent was erected outside the entrance today.

Locals said Mr Masters, a businessman, was shot in his home, a large, detached property with its own security gates next door to the church. It was still cordoned off by police today.

Robert Wood, 61, who lives opposite the church, described hearing gunfire last night and then a woman's cry.

He said: "I was listening to the Masters golf on the radio and heard, I reckon, about four shots.

"I assumed it was someone shooting rabbits or something on the outskirts of the village.

"After about 10, I heard a girl running down the road, making a continuous noise.

"I thought as it was pub closing time it was high jinx or something but, thinking about it now, maybe she'd seen something.

"The next thing I know, the whole place was lit up with flashlights and flashing blue lights and police cars were crawling all over the place."

He said a police helicopter was also hovering above the village, in the shadow of Glastonbury Tor.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokeswoman said: "At 10.39pm on Sunday a call was received by police from someone reporting that a man had been shot at a house in the village.

"Police attended the scene but the man died shortly after the incident.

"An investigation was immediately launched to identify the person responsible and inquiries led to the discovery of a man's body in a nearby churchyard.

"At this stage police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident."

Police have appealed for witnesses to contact them on 0845 456 7000.

Julia Burman, 18, who lives in the village, said: "I heard it all happening, but didn't want to go down in case there weren't any police there yet.

"I heard a gun shot then heard another couple of shots and then some screaming. It sounded like a shot gun. There was one shot and then a pause.

"It was hysterical screaming. At first I thought it was someone coming from the pub but it was very distressed.

"I then heard sirens and a car door slam.

"A helicopter was doing circuits for ages.

"It was pretty scary. I thought it would just be hunting or something, but then thought, why would they be hunting at that time? It's really strange, you don't expect it in the village."

Paula Hollingsworth, who has been vicar of the parish for nine months, said it would take some time for the community to get over what had happened.

"I was deeply saddened to hear about this tragedy," she said.

"I know that this is a shock to everybody in the village of Westbury-sub-Mendip.

"It is unbelievable, and will take some time for the people here to come to terms with it.

"The families affected by this tragedy are very much in our thoughts and prayers."

The parish church has a congregation of only 20 to 30 people.

Reverend Hollingsworth said Mr Masters and his family occasionally worshipped at the church. She hoped the church would reopen as early as tomorrow, she added.