Heathrow 'gunman' shot dead after failing to stop

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The Independent Online

A man allegedly wielding a gun was shot dead yesterday by police near Heathrow airport, Scotland Yard said.

The man reportedly refused orders to stop from a police dog handler based at Heathrow airport who was monitoring traffic on a perimeter road in West Drayton. The man allegedly pointed a gun at the officer. Armed officers were then called to the scene.

Earlier reports described the incident as an exchange of fire but Scotland Yard said it was not yet known if the driver had fired a shot.

A police spokesman said: "Shots were fired. It is not known at this stage whether the suspect fired a shot or shots. He suffered gunshot wounds - [it is] not known how many."

Two ambulances, an emergency response car and an air ambulance were called to the scene a few minutes later. First aid was given by paramedics but the man, who was white, was pronounced dead in hospital at 5.34pm, an hour after the incident began. His identity is not yet known.

The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) is to supervise an inquiry into the fatal shooting. All officers present have been debriefed and the armed officers involved have been taken off firearm duties, as is normal practice in these cases.

The PCA's deputy chairwoman, Wendy Towers, said: "I have come out to Heathrow airport to begin the supervision of the inquiry. Our first concern will be to identify the man and notify next of kin."

Commander Phil Gormley, leading the Metropolitan Police investigation into the incident, said a weapon had been recovered from the scene, although it was not clear what type of weapon it was.

A witness said about 50 police officers and 20 vehicles were at the scene, which was close to the British Airways training building. Employees were told to stay inside the building after the gunfight.

Police cordoned off main roads near the airport, sealing off the site of the shootings, and forensic scientists were examining the scene.

A spokesman for Heathrow said operations at the airport were continuing as normal and that they had not been affected by the incident. Police said they were treating the shooting as a criminal rather than a terrorist incident.

Security was stepped up at the airport in February after intelligence reports suggested an attack was imminent. Armed reconnaissance vehicles and 450 troops patrolled the four terminals and the perimeter of the airport amid intelligence reports of a threat to aircraft from missiles smuggled into Britain.