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PLYMOUTH: Five people, including a three-year-old girl, were shot dead in Plymouth, England, a rare occurrence in a country that has some of the world’s strictest gun control laws and has not endured a mass shooting since 2010.
According to Britain police, they were investigating the background of a troubled loner who obtained a firearms licence and shot dead five people. No motive has yet emerged for bloodshed at the hands of 22-year-old gunman Jake Davison, who killed himself after the six-minute spree.
However, the police ruled out terrorism, including with far-right groups, and said there was a “familial relationship” with Davison’s first victim aged 51 while declining to confirm local reports that she was his mother.
“After killing the woman at her house, Davison shot and killed the toddler and her male relative aged 43 on the road outside, before taking the lives of a man and woman nearby”, the police said.
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer told reporters that another two locals received “significant” but not life-threatening gunshot wounds, adding that as of 2020, Davison held a valid firearms licence.
Local and national leaders expressed shock and grief. However, as questions mounted over Davison’s past and the police response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked the emergency services.
“My thoughts are with the friends and family of those who lost their lives and with all those affected by the tragic incident in Plymouth last night,” he tweeted.
My thoughts are with the friends and family of those who lost their lives and with all those affected by the tragic incident in Plymouth last night. I thank the emergency services for their response.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 13, 2021
A single gun was recovered from the scene after Davison shot himself, but the police chief was unable to confirm witness accounts that it was a pump-action shotgun. Davison’s social media channels indicated an interest in guns, right-wing libertarian politics and “shoot-em-up” video games.
Britain has some of the Western world’s toughest gun controls and police are not routinely armed. Private ownership of handguns was outlawed after a school massacre in the Scottish town of Dunblane in 1996, which claimed the lives of 16 young pupils and their teacher in Britain’s worst mass shooting to date.
However, ownership of sporting rifles and shotguns is allowed, subject to strict licensing rules. Licences last five years, and are meant to be granted only after thorough police background checks, including for mental illness.
Britain’s last mass shooting was in June 2010, when taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people in Cumbria, northwest England.