Man shot dead by police 'depressed at wife's care home move'

A man shot dead by police in a quiet country village was depressed at the thought of his sick wife being placed in a nursing home, a close friend said today.

The man, named locally as Mervyn Tussler, was fatally shot yesterday following a three-hour stand-off with police in the village of Fernhurst, near Midhurst, West Sussex.

Armed response vehicles and police dog handlers went to the area at around 11.20am after a woman reported seeing a man with a gun in Ash Grove, a sheltered retirement complex run by Hanover Property Management, where Mr Tussler lived.

Mr Tussler, in his 60s, had been told by social services that his ill wife Winifred would have to go into a nursing home, according to his friend, Peter Goodman.

Mr Tussler had been his wife's carer for the past 15 years and was said to be "lost without her".

Mr Goodman, 54, a plumber, said Mrs Tussler had spent around the past four weeks in Guildford Hospital, Surrey, suffering from a urinary infection.

In the past week, Mr Tussler was told that she was not well enough to return to their home in the retirement block in Ash Grove, Mr Goodman said.

"He just seemed to be depressed about Win being in hospital," said Mr Goodman.

"He was getting deep down and depressed about it and early on this week he had a meeting with social services to determine whether Win could come back home again.

"It seems that they said she would have to go into a nursing home, which upset him."

Mr Goodman said the couple, who had two grown-up children, were extremely close.

And he believes the thought of his wife not returning home triggered yesterday's events.

"I think that was the nucleus which sparked it all off," said Mr Goodman, who lives round the corner from the couple's home.

"They were very close. He was lost without her, he would just wander around not knowing what to do."

Mr Goodman said Mr Tussler had kept guns and was a member of Headley Park rifle and pistol club.

He said: "I used to go shooting with him at Headley Park but as far as I was aware he had given it up and had sold most of his guns.

"He had a firearms certificate so it was all licensed and above board."

Mr Goodman, who had known Mr Tussler for the past four years, last saw him on Thursday.

"He seemed OK but he was a bit upset. We talked about going to see Win and we were due to go to the hospital today."

Yesterday's incident has been referred by Sussex Police to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Its commissioner, Mike Franklin, said investigators will examine the actions and decision-making of the firearms officers involved and the command and control of the incident.