Shot dead on her daughter's birthday

Policewoman killed in Bradford robbery was mother of five children aged from 4 to 14. Former childminder who yearned to be a police officer cut down after just nine months in service. Six are arrested in London as injured female colleague remains in hospital under armed guard
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The Independent Online

The policewoman who was gunned down by armed robbers in Bradford on Friday was named yesterday as Sharon Beshenivsky, a 38-year-old mother of five, who dreamed all her adult life of becoming an officer.

Even in a world where extreme violence is commonplace, the story of the wife and mother who finally fulfilled her ambition only to die before she could even serve a full year was deeply shocking. It is all the more disturbing for the fact that PC Beshenivsky was killed on the day she ought to have been celebrating her youngest child's fourth birthday.

Five men and a woman were being questioned last night about PC Beshenivsky's murder and the shooting of her colleague, Teresa Milburn, 37. The six were arrested in London yesterday by the Metropolitan police, the day after both officers were shot during an armed robbery by three men at a Bradford travel agency.

Former Metropolitan police commander Lord Stevens last night called for the reintroduction of the death penalty for those found guilty of murdering police officers.

Lord Stevens, writing in today's News of the World, said: "For the first time in my life, despite 40 years at the sharp end of policing, I finally see no alternative. Such an act of pure evil can only be met by the most extreme of responses - death."

Family, friends and colleagues were struggling to take in the killing of PC Beshenivsky, a mother of three children and two step-children, aged four to 14. Her husband, Paul, a landscape gardener, is said to be "completely devastated".

PC Beshenivsky, a former childminder, joined West Yorkshire police nine months ago. She had previously served as a community police officer for two years and had always wanted to join the police force.

West Yorkshire chief constable Colin Cramphorn yesterday described her as "an enthusiastic, mature and very positive colleague" with an infectious laugh. "Her inspector said it all for me when he said he would have liked 30 Sharons on the shift."

PC Milburn is also a probationer, having joined the West Yorkshire force 17 months ago. The mother of a 16-year-old boy, she is being treated in hospital after being shot in the shoulder. She remains under armed guard. While the officer's condition is not life threatening, the police say she is "very traumatised" by her colleague's murder. She was informed of PC Beshenivsky's death on Friday night.

The two officers thought they were attending a routine call when they arrived at the Universal Express travel agent in Morley Street, Bradford just after 3pm. Instead, they were confronted by three men outside the premises, one of whom was armed. Several shots were fired. One bullet penetrated PC Beshenivsky's body armour and lodged in her chest.

The assailants left both police officers lying in the street as they ran towards a nearby getaway car. The officers were tended to by colleagues called to the scene by PC Milburn. PC Beshenivsky was declared dead after being rushed by ambulance to Bradford Royal Infirmary.

She is the sixth female police officer to be killed in the line of duty. Yesterday questions were being asked about why two inexperienced probationers were on patrol together.