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Hundreds pledge to attend vigil for 'Bessie' the cow shot dead by armed police in Wallsend

Tributes have poured in for the cow, which escaped from a field on Sunday

Lizzie Dearden
Wednesday 20 May 2015 11:42 BST
Almost 400 people have said they will attend the vigil
Almost 400 people have said they will attend the vigil (Facebook)

Almost 400 people have pledged to attend a vigil being held for a cow shot dead by armed police near Newcastle.

The animal, named “Bessie” by well-wishers, was killed because officers deemed it a “significant risk to members of the public and motorists” as it neared a main road on Sunday.

Her death came during a three-hour operation involving armed units and a helicopter to track down Bessie and two other cows that escaped from a field near the Rising Sun Country Park in Wallsend.

A Facebook tribute page has since been set up called “R.I.P Wallsend Cow”, which despite being labelled “just for fun” has garnered almost 7,000 likes.

A Facebook page for 'Bessie' has almost 7,000 likes

The administrators have organised a candle-lit vigil to be held at the field where the animal died on Friday at 6.30pm. Almost 400 people have so far said they will attend on the event page.

“We have spoken to Northumbria Police and can confirm to all who are attending in cow print onesies, you will be safe,” a post assured.

In response to people asking whether the event was a joke, an organiser insisted it was real and would show the “great community spirit” in Wallsend.

A prayer for Friday's vigil -Our Bessie who art in heavenYou were shot and killed for nothingYou just wanted to eat...

Posted by R.I.P Wallsend Cow on Monday, 18 May 2015

A freelance photographer who witnessed the cow being shot described at least 15 police vehicles at the scene as a helicopter hovered overhead.

John Millard said: "I thought I would get a nice shot of the cow and I didn't even have chance to hit the button on the camera when it dropped to the floor.

"People were aghast. It was not near the road, it was a football field away."

Before he arrived to cover the story for the Newcastle-based Chronicle newspaper people had been petting the cow, he was told by locals.

Police had been alerted by members of the public who spotted the animals wandering down a road at around 2.30pm.

Part of the busy Coast Road from Newcastle to Tynemouth was shut as police tried to catch Bessie in a nearby field.

A spokesperson for Northumbria Police said: “The cow was in a highly distressed state and considered to be a significant risk to members of the public and motorists.

“The decision was made for the animal to be destroyed by firearms officers at the scene.”

A spokesperson declined to respond to The Independent's questions on why an armed response was required and whether it was routine for animal escapes, but said "public safety was the main priority".

The two other escaped animals were left to be recovered by their owners.

Additional reporting by PA

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