Hunt for 'exceptionally dangerous' killer of PC

Call for tighter gun laws as colleagues pay tribute to officer shot dead in street
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The Independent Online

The wife of Ian Broadhurst, the 34-year-old police officer named as the victim of a fatal shooting in Leeds, was described as "absolutely distraught" at her husband's death yesterday.

While Eilisa Broadhurst, who married her husband two years ago after meeting him on holiday in Tenerife, was said to be in a state of "shock and disbelief", police colleagues branded his death an "appalling, dreadful attack".

Colin Cramphorn, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire police, said the officer, who was gunned down on Friday during a routine vehicle check, had always wanted to become a traffic officer, fulfilling his ambition only this year. "Ian loved his job and that is apparent from all his family," Mr Cramphorn said.

Police are still hunting Mr Broadhurst's killer, whom they describe as "exceptionally dangerous". The killing has resulted in calls for tighter gun laws and especially a clampdown on imitation firearms that can be easily modified into lethal weapons.

Two other officers were also attacked by the gunman. PC Neil Roper, a 45-year-old from Wakefield who has two children, was named as the second officer shot. He is stable, having undergone surgery. A third, in his twenties, suffered damage to his radiobelt, although it is unclear whether this was caused by a bullet.

The dead officer and PC Roper were both shot when they went to investigate a BMW that they noticed was parked strangely in the Roundhay area of Leeds.

After discovering that the BMW on Dib Lane was stolen, they removed the driver and placed him on the back seat of their patrol car. As one of the officers opened the back door prior to handcuffing him, the suspect produced a handgun and shot each policeman several times, fatally wounding PC Broadhurst in the front seat. The gunman is described as white, with a tanned or olive complexion, of stocky build and in his thirties or forties.

Police have appealed for a passer-by, whom the killer threatened after the shooting, to come forward. The assailant then fired indiscriminately into the street, forcing two people out of their green Rover and driving off in it. The hijacked vehicle, registration L410 PMB, was found just after midnight on Friday in Springwood Lane in the Oakwood area of Leeds. It has been sent for forensic examination.

PC Broadhurst, who lived in Cookridge, Leeds, from the age of eight, joined West Yorkshire police in 1998. In March this year he fulfilled his ambition to join the road traffic department. He and his wife married two years ago after meeting in Tenerife. They had no children. Detective Superintendent Chris Gregg, leading the investigation, said officers were trying to ascertain what exactly happened and had spoken briefly to PC Roper before he went into surgery. "This was an attack on two unarmed officers which can only be described as an appalling, dreadful attack. We are appealing for any information that can help us track and find this man, who [must] be considered exceptionally dangerous. If anyone has the slightest suspicion they should contact us."

More than 50 police officers have been killed since 1980 on Britain's streets. Between 1980 and 1989, 30 officers were killed in the line of duty; between 1990 and 1999 a further 18 died, and since 2000 eight officers have lost their lives.

West Yorkshire police had already set up a special squad to deal with drug-related crime involving local gangs.

Next month, the Home Office is expected to publish annual statistics on serious gun crime showing that West Yorkshire experienced a slight rise in shootings last year, although this has now dipped.

John Battle, Labour MP for Leeds West, called for imitation weapons to be banned and for officers to receive more specialised training to cope with the changing nature of crime. "This needs to be kept in perspective: more police are killed by cars than by guns," he said. "But in Leeds there has been an issue with drugs and guns, which is a national problem. More people than ever don't have respect for police. You need to take guns out of the system, including imitation guns."

Residents said the area around Dib Lane was quiet, although one said there had been a drugs-related shooting about two years ago. "Someone was shot in Fearnville a couple of miles away as they were driving a car," she said.

Jan Berry, chairwoman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the thoughts of federation members were with the families of the police officers. "This tragedy highlights the growing dangers police officers face every day when serving and protecting their communities."

Yesterday the News of the World and the film producer Michael Winnerannounced a joint £20,000 reward for help in catching the gunman.