Essex gunman found dead in churchyard

 

A man wanted for murder after a police officer was fatally shot has been found dead in a churchyard, police said.

Essex Police had launched a major manhunt and warned members of the public to stay indoors after Peter Reeve, 64, ran amok in a residential street in the seaside town of Clacton, Essex, yesterday afternoon.

Pc Ian Dibell, dubbed a hero by colleagues, was killed and another man injured in the double shooting with a handgun.

Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said Pc Dibell, who lived near the crime scene in Redbridge Road, had "paid the ultimate price" after stepping in to protect a member of the public while off-duty.

He added: "I can confirm Peter Reeve, the man wanted for the murder of a serving police officer, was found dead, with a weapon in a Writtle churchyard and no shots were fired by the police.

"Clearly the very strong message I had to send to the public no longer applies. Any threat to the public has thankfully passed."

A cordon was this morning in place at the churchyard in the village of Writtle, near Chelmsford, where Reeve's body was found.

Officers were alerted by a member of the public at about 8.30am.

Mr Barker-McCardle said inquiries were ongoing into the motive for the attack, which neighbours say may be linked to a dispute over parking.

He added: "Whatever may or may not turn out to have sat behind the motive, yesterday can only be described as impossible to understand and a catastrophic escalation in events.

"It is an extreme set of circumstances that a man opens fire with a gun clearly firing at more than one person and shooting an off-duty police constable dead.

"There must have been some sort of catalyst that prompted the scale of a tragedy of this kind."

Mr Dibell's family issued a statement saying they were devastated by the news.

They added: "We are immensely proud of Ian and the courage he showed.

"We take some comfort from his bravery.

"Policing was in his blood and Ian selflessly went to the aid of people in desperate need without fear or thought for his own safety. It was who he was, a hero.

"He has paid for the act in the most devastating way. He will be deeply missed and no words can describe the loss."

Essex Police said Reeve was "largely unknown to the police" and did not have a licence to hold a firearm.

Officers would not comment on Reeve's precise circumstances but said they were in contact with his family.

Mr Barker-McCardle said it was important to remember that another man had been injured and could have suffered far more serious injuries.

He said there was no reason to suspect anybody else was involved in the killing.

Referring to Pc Dibell, he said: "He was a highly-regarded and well-liked community police officer.

"This was highly disturbing but police officers know there is a time to grieve and that is when this murder investigation is complete."

A message posted on Twitter from the account of the late Pc David Rathband said: "Very sad day for all those connected to a brave man doing his job.. We feel your pain more than most..RIP".

The 43-year-old blinded officer was found hanged earlier this year at his home in Blyth, Northumberland. Two years ago he was shot twice in the face by gunman Raoul Moat in Newcastle.

Police officers are understood to be at a number of properties in Writtle belonging to members of Reeve's family.

The media have been asked not to approach them as they are described as distressed and possible witnesses.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower