Residents of a Cheshire village were in shock after police officers shot a man dead in a local car park.
Anthony Grainger, from Bolton, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest after the car he was in was stopped in the village of Culcheth, Cheshire, on Saturday evening in what police described as a "pre-planned operation," understood to be part of an investigation into a planned robbery in the area.
It came just weeks after the village's Co-op was the scene of a robbery on 18 February when a machete was used.
Last night, Greater Manchester Police charged three men with conspiracy to commit robbery. They were named as David Totton, 33, Joseph Travers, 27, and Robert Rimmer, 26, all from Manchester.
Two of the men were arrested in Culcheth on Saturday night and a third was arrested in Manchester earlier yesterday.
The shooting has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Residents spoke of their terror as events unfolded near Jackson Avenue at around 7.20pm on Saturday. Some described hearing what sounded like fireworks.
The scene of the shooting was cordoned off by officers yesterday. The car park is opposite a small shopping centre and backs on to the rear of a number of shops and bars.
Keith Bland, a Warrington councillor and a parish council representative for Culcheth, said: "This is very out of character. We're between Manchester and Liverpool and you do get some people driving through the village and the occasional car theft from that, but nothing like this."
A single bullet hole could be seen in the front windscreen of a red Audi estate car in the car park. A silver-grey Audi had been positioned in front of it, appearing to block it in.
On a social-networking forum, residents described an increasing police presence in the village ahead of the shooting. One wrote: "It's almost as if there was an anticipation of something going to happen."
The IPCC has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
"Investigators are at the scene and working with officers from both Greater Manchester Police and Cheshire Constabulary," a spokeswoman said.
A Cheshire Police spokesman said: "A car was stopped by armed officers from Greater Manchester Police.
"During the contact, a male occupant of the car was shot and sustained fatal injuries.
"Cheshire Police patrols have been increased in the area and the community of Culcheth should be reassured that this is an isolated incident."