British gunman kills himself in stand-off

A gunman wanted for three shootings killed himself early on Saturday in a stand-off with marksmen in rural north-east England, British police said.

Raoul Moat, a 37-year-old former bodybuilder and nightclub bouncer who bore a grudge against police, was surrounded by armed officers on a riverbank in the picturesque town of Rothbury in Northumberland where he had been living rough.

Extra police officers, marksmen and armoured vehicles were rushed to the area to help a week-long manhunt for Moat who had declared war on police and later threatened the public. The police had even turned to the military for advice.

“We can now confirm that Raoul Moat died in hospital early this morning,” police said in a statement at the end of a week-long manhunt involving hundreds of police, armoured vehicles and military aircraft.

“It followed several hours of negotiations between Moat and police but at around 1.15am it appears from information available that Moat shot himself,” the statement said.

Moat was wanted for the shooting of his ex-girlfriend, the killing of her boyfriend and the shooting of a policeman last weekend, days after he was freed from a short prison term for assault.

Witnesses said Moat pointed a gun to his head when police began negotiating with him to give himself up.

Northumbria police said it appeared no officers had fired gunshots but the incident had been routinely referred to the police complaints watchdog which probes cases in which suspects have died.

“While the incident has been brought to a close we must be mindful of the impact it has had on many lives,” temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim said.

Live television pictures had shown intense police activity in the town where Tornado military jets had earlier screeched overhead, mapping the ground.

Residents in Rothbury, some of them clearly terrified, had been told to stay in their houses and lock their doors as police scoured the surrounding countryside.

Moat believed his former girlfriend had begun a relationship with a police officer while he was in prison. Police said this was untrue.

In a hand-written 49-page letter to police published by a newspaper earlier this week, Moat vowed to kill policemen and not to stop “until I’m dead”.

“They’ve hunted me for years, now it’s my turn,” wrote Moat.
- Reuters

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