LONDON (Reuters) – A British police officer was shot dead in the early hours of Friday by a man who was being held at a custody centre in south London.
Police said the incident occurred at about 2.15 a.m while the man was being detained at the Croydon Custody Centre where arrested suspects are processed. The unnamed officer was treated at the scene and taken to hospital where he died.
A 23-year-old man was detained at the scene of the shooting and was taken to hospital having also suffered a gunshot wound. He is in a critical condition.
Officers did not open fire and the BBC said it was believed the man had turned the gun on himself. A murder investigation is underway, police added.
“My deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the police officer who was killed in Croydon last night,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“We owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe.”
London police chief Cressida Dick, who described the incident as “truly shocking”, said the investigation was in the early stages and police were still trying to establish the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
UK interior minister shocked by fatal shooting of police officer
PM Johnson offers condolences to family of fatally shot police officer
Britain’s interior minister, Priti Patel, said she was shocked and saddened by the killing.
“This is a sad day for our country and another terrible reminder of how our police officers put themselves in danger each and every day to keep the rest of us safe,” Patel said.
The shooting of officers is very rare in Britain where the vast majority of police remain routinely unarmed. A 2017 survey found just over a third wanted to carry weapons routinely, but 43% did not.
The last officers to be shot dead while on duty were unarmed police constables Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, who were gunned down by a fugitive in 2012 after responding to a hoax call about a burglary in the northern English city of Manchester.