Gunman holding wife is shot dead

A pensioner holding his wife hostage at gunpoint in their retirement home was shot dead by police marksmen yesterday.

Armed response vehicles were called to the village of Fernhurst, north of Midhurst in West Sussex, shortly before lunchtime.

Neighbours said officers surrounded a retirement development callled Ash Grove. One witness said police used a loudhailer to encourage the man to leave the flat before the fatal shot was fired.

Another said she heard a policewoman shout "We have stunned him, get an ambulance" during the confrontation.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said an investigation had been launched and its representatives had visited the scene. A spokeswoman for the IPCC said: "At approximately 3pm, Sussex Police referred the incident to the IPCC. IPCC investigators have been deployed to the scene to start the inquiry."

A spokesman for Sussex Police added: "We were called to an incident that started just before lunchtime in Fernhurst." He declined to comment further.

Fernhurst, a village of some 3,000 residents, lies about three miles south of Haslemere close to West Sussex's borders with Surrey and Hampshire. It was named West Sussex's village of the year in 2007.

A woman living in Ash Grove said the incident took place in the block of retirement flats in which she lives.

One resident said a man in his 60s was seen waving a gun in front of other pensioners at the warden-controlled property.

Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said: "The police are still very much there but I don't want to say any more because I knew the man involved."