Susan Carpenter, 52, was alone in her house in Hurlingham Gardens in Fulham, south-west London, on Tuesday evening when the desperate fugitive, carrying a sawn-off shotgun and clutching a terrified hostage, rang her doorbell.
She had no idea that the man had been involved in a robbery in Putney High Street near by, followed by a police chase during which shots were fired at the pursuing officers.
Mrs Carpenter, a property journalist, told how she refused to let the man in after he drew his gun and threatened to blow her head off. Minutes later, after a shoot-out with police, the robber turned his gun on himself. Last night he was named as Kevin Richard Gregory, 32. Scotland Yard said that he was believed to come from London, but had no known fixed address.
Clive Carpenter, 55, a retired chartered surveyor, returned to the house to find it surrounded by 'hundreds' of police officers. From an upstairs balcony window, he saw the dead gunman lying on his back outside the front door. 'He had leg wounds, but the real damage was done to his forehead. Very little was left of his head,' he said.
Her voice still trembling with shock, Mrs Carpenter recalled hearing 'frantic ringing' on her bell and seeing a shadowy figure through the stained-glass window of the door. She moved to another room and pulled back a curtain to see who was outside.
'I saw two men, and one said to me, 'Let me in, let me in, it's the police. This is a hostage situation'. I stood with my mouth open for a few seconds. He put his hand in his coat pocket and I thought he was going to take out some ID. But instead out came this shotgun.
'He put it right to the glass of the window where my head was and said, 'If you don't let me in, I'll blow your head off your shoulders'.'
Mrs Carpenter said the gunman was holding up another man in a suit, who she later learned was the hostage. 'He was as white as a sheet but didn't say anything.' She added that the gunman looked 'agitated, but not mad'.
Mrs Carpenter went on: 'I got down on my hands and knees and crawled round to the next room and dialled 999. I think the woman at the other end thought it was a hoax. She was asking me questions and wanted to know my postcode. I thought the door was going to come in any moment and this man was going to kill me.
'As I was finishing talking on the phone, I heard shots. I thought this lunatic was shooting at passers-by, I thought he was massacring the whole street. Then I thought 'God, he's shot my husband'.'
Eventually she peered out and saw a body two doors away, but not that of the gunman. It was a policeman who had been wounded in the exchange of fire.
'I ran up the stairs and looked out from my balcony window. The police outside were shouting, 'Get back]',' she said.
Mrs Carpenter said she could just see the gunman's feet. At that point, one of her two dogs, Gypsy, who had been in a car across the road, waiting to be taken for a walk, bolted out through an open window. Terrified by the bangs, she ran through the front gate and sat on the dead gunman's body.