A man who wielded several guns at police marksmen may have been attempting "suicide by cop", witnesses said today.
Residents said the man pointed the assault rifle-type weapons at children and people as he wandered through streets near his home.
One woman said he shouted "shoot me, shoot me" when he was finally confronted by armed officers in Harold Hill, Romford.
Retired nurse Ellen Hampshire, 67, said police told her husband the gunman shouted at them before the fatal shots were fired.
She said: "They were after this man who was waving his gun around and saying, 'shoot me, shoot me'.
"Then I heard he had shot his girlfriend. He was shot on the green. The helicopter came down and landed there. I saw police running down the side of the houses."
A taxi driver also claimed the gunman shot his girlfriend during a domestic attack yesterday afternoon.
The 46-year-old, who did not wish to be named, said: "It's terrible round here and not a nice area at night. It's not too bad in the daytime.
"I heard that the man had shot his girlfriend in the arm but then went round shooting live ammunition."
Local officers were called to a domestic incident in Honeysuckle Close at about 1.40pm yesterday.
They called for a CO19 armed response unit when witnesses said a 40-year-old man, named locally as Andy, was carrying a gun.
Officers told residents to stay in their homes as armed officers arrived and traced the suspect.
A 14-year-old girl said the man "pointed the gun and said, 'Kids, go home where you belong'."
One woman said: "He was prancing around, he went over to the field at one point. The first I knew he had one gun, then he had three guns.
"At times, he was on the phone to police and said, 'I don't care, you can shoot me'. He did not care. He was walking everywhere with the gun."
Police found three weapons at the scene. They are being examined to see if they were fired.
The woman, who was seen being attended to in an ambulance, was taken to hospital with "non life-threatening" injuries.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the shooting. A post mortem examination was taking place today.
Investigators are using the Betty Strathern Centre as a base and the area around the shooting remains cordoned off.
The shooting came five months after police shot dead barrister Mark Saunders, 32, after a siege at his Chelsea home.
The two officers who shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station in July 2005 gave evidence at his inquest earlier this week.
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