The chief constable of Yorkshire’s largest police force has condemned the “violent, unprovoked and brutal” shooting of an unarmed policewoman after a six-hour manhunt led to the arrest of a 37-year-old man.
Mark Gilmore, West Yorkshire Police’s most senior officer, was speaking after his 33-year-old colleague was gunned down while investigating what was described as a routine call about anti-social behaviour in Leeds.
She remained in hospital last night with serious – but not life-threatening – injuries to her face, neck and hand.
The arrested man, who was apprehended near a primary school, was last night still being questioned by detectives after a firearm, thought to be sawn-off shotgun, was seized.
Mr Gilmore said: “I wish to pay a huge tribute to the bravery and selfless dedication of my colleagues who, whilst responding to a routine call about anti-social behaviour today, sustained a violent, unprovoked and brutal attack from a lone gunman.”
The police constable and a male colleague had been called to the city’s Hyde Park area shortly after 3am yesterday following reports from the occupants of a property in Norwood Terrace that a window had been damaged.
A short time later the uniformed pair – part of the unit that responds to 999 calls – went to the suspected culprit’s house in neighbouring Cardigan Road.
Speaking at the scene, Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds ‘police commander, said the situation quickly escalated as they attempted to make an arrest, adding: “On arrival at the suspect’s address a firearm was discharged at the officers and the female officer has sustained serious injuries to her face her neck and her right hand.
“Her colleague was uninjured but thankfully was able to provide immediate care and remove the injured officer from harm’s way and summon assistance from other officers.”
It is thought only one shot was fired but the wounded PC, who was on only her second night shift with the response unit, sustained multiple injuries from shards of glass which shattered as the gunman took aim from behind a door.
A large area around Cardigan Road was cordoned off after the gunman fled and, with forensic officers carrying out examinations at the house, officers made a public appeal for help and warned hat the suspect should not be approached.
Following several calls from the public, and with assistance from the West Yorkshire Police helicopter, armed officers made an arrest near Shire Oak Primary School, in Wood Lane in Headingley, at about 10.10am.
Mr Money said a firearm was recovered nearby.
He added that he had spoken to the injured officer’s family, who are from the Lancashire area.
“I have reassured them that everything possible is being and will be done to support the officer,” he said. “Her colleagues were quite understandably upset as well, but they are displaying the qualities that we so often see from our police officers and police staff in West Yorkshire in traumatic situations.
“When I met them this morning their concerns were around public safety and around supporting the injured officer.”
He added: “I appreciate that these types of incidents have impacts in communities such as this. We were in control of the situation very quickly.”
“We are not looking for anybody else in connection with this incident.”
West Yorkshire Police said it would take some time to establish the course of events, but the force’s full resources would be ploughed into a investigation.
Mr Gilmore added: “I wish to place on record my sincere appreciation and admiration for my colleagues, who led the subsequent investigation and quickly and professionally brought this very serious criminal incident to a safe conclusion.”