The wife of the police officer shot in the face by Raoul Moat said today members of a controversial Facebook group dedicated to the gunman were "ignorant".
The creator of the RIP Raoul Moat You Legend group took down the webpage after it came under fire from Prime Minister David Cameron.
However, Siobhan O'Dowd was unrepentant, saying the steroid-addicted former bodybuilder was "still a human being at the end of the day" and that she may reinstate the group.
Pc David Rathband, 42, was left blind after Moat blasted him at close range through the window of his parked patrol car.
His wife Kath said she could not understand why Moat was hailed as a "legend" on Facebook when her husband was the real hero.
"Why anyone with any morals would think that Moat was a hero and a legend is beyond me," she told The Sun.
"My husband is a hero - and there is no comparison between my husband and Moat. David's bravery is astonishing. Moat was an out-and-out coward."
Asked why she removed the Facebook page, Ms O'Dowd said: "I don't know really. A few of us came to a decision but it's going to be up again running.
"We don't condone what he did as what he did was wrong. I feel sorry for the families but he was still a human being at the end of the day.
"He had problems and needed help and he didn't get any help."
Moat, 37, shot himself last week in Rothbury, Northumberland, following a massive manhunt, which ended in a six-hour stand-off with armed police.
The father-of-three became Britain's most wanted man after killing karate instructor Chris Brown, 29, and wounding former girlfriend Sam Stobbart, 22, and Pc Rathband.
In an extraordinary radio interview on Talksport on Wednesday night, Ms O'Dowd explained why she felt Moat - who has emerged since his death as deeply disturbed and paranoid - was a legend.
"Legends get talked about - and he is getting talked about," she said.
She said she did not agree with the shootings, saying "they were a bit harsh", but maintained that Moat was a legend because he "hid from police for a week... that were (sic) funny. I think he's a legend for keeping the police on their toes".
Speaking yesterday, Ms O'Dowd said she did not expect the backlash she received following the creation of the group, which had more than 30,000 supporters.
Mr Cameron said he could not understand the sympathy being expressed for Moat, whom he branded a "callous murderer".
"To be honest, I didn't think this would be the kind of reaction I would get," Ms O'Dowd said.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Even Facebook said that and that's why they wouldn't shut it down."
But she maintained she was not threatened since creating the group.
"I cannot get threatened for having an opinion, surely?" she asked.
Facebook refused to remove the group but later confirmed it was taken down.
Last night it emerged Moat threatened staff from Newcastle City Council accusing them of lying and being "more bent than the police".
His frustrations with social workers are captured in conversations he recorded on a secret microphone.
The local authority was so concerned he would target staff following the shootings that it closed several council buildings - understood to include children's centres - while the manhunt was under way.
A total of 50 hours of secretly-recorded conversations by Moat of meetings with police, social workers and carers emerged.
They paint a picture of a man becoming increasingly paranoid and who wanted to see a psychiatrist in case he had a "problem".
In one conversation last year he described himself as emotionally unstable.
"I'm quite emotionally unstable, you know. I get myself over-the-top happy sometimes, you know," he is heard to say.
Since Moat's death, dozens of bouquets and tributes were left outside his home in Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne, and at the riverside location where he took his own life.
Some of the tributes criticise the police while others talk of the Raoul Moat they knew and cared for.
Newcastle City Council and Northumberland County Council said the flowers and cards would not be removed immediately, but they were later taken away, apparently by local people.
Steven Bridgett, Northumberland County Councillor for Rothbury, said: "To be honest, the town just wants to move on from the events of last week and having the flowers there was a constant reminder.
"I explained to people what the council's stance was and, as I said, I wouldn't be surprised if people took it into their own hands and dealt with it."
Northumbria Police revealed that searches of the Rothbury area, including the Cragside Estate and a storm drain running under the town, failed to locate a shotgun Moat was believed to have been using.
A further two people, two men aged 28 and 36, were arrested yesterday on suspicion of assisting an offender. They were released on bail.
A total of 15 people have now been arrested in connection with the inquiry, with only two being charged - Karl Ness and Qhuram Awan.Reuse content