CHURCHES in Plymouth have been rallying to support their communities, after a man shot and killed five people, including a three-year-old girl, before turning his gun on himself.
The shooting, which took place in the Keyham area of the city on Thursday evening, was described by the police as the worst mass shooting in Britain since 2010.
The gunman, named as Jake Davison, a 22-year-old apprentice crane operator, had spoken of being “beaten down” and “defeated by life” in videos posted to his YouTube channel. He had also likened himself to the film character the Terminator.
Police say they are not treating the incident as terror-related. Mr Davison had a firearms licence.
The Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt Revd Nick McKinnel, said on Friday: “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been injured or bereaved by this terrible shooting in Plymouth. It is horrific to think of it happening in our own city.”
He said that St Thomas’s, Keyham, and St Mark’s, in the neighbouring Ford area, were open “for anyone who would like somewhere to pray and reflect and someone to talk to. We stand with the community of Keyham. We are working alongside other local organisations, and will continue to offer whatever pastoral and practical support we can.
“We think of Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem, and the way in which God himself feels our pain and takes it on himself. We weep with those who weep.”
St Thomas’s is less than half a mile from the scene of the killings. The Vicar, Fr David Way SSC, said on Friday: “We’ve opened the church for anyone to come in throughout the day. We will offer a requiem mass tonight at 6 p.m., which is approximately 24 hours after the tragic deaths.
“We’ve had a steady flow of people coming throughout the day since we opened at 9 a.m. We’ve had all sorts of people; people who just want to do something, but they don’t know what.
“Many of the people who have come in aren’t people who we’d normally see here; we’ve just opened our doors to anyone who wants to come in and have a cup of tea or a chat. We’ve been able to share messages, too, from people around the country who are praying for us all.
“We have a lovely little church here, which I think really helps develop that sense of peace in the midst of all this. It’s somewhere that people can come just to talk, pray or think. It’s the old cliché, you know: ‘These sort of things don’t happen here.’ But, of course, now it has happened here.
“Emotions are very raw in the community at the moment. I think people are in shock, but soon I think those feelings will turn to anger as we all learn more about what has happened.”
Among those killed were a 51-year-old woman, who was known to the gunman, and a 43-year-old relative of the child. A 59-year-old man was also shot dead, and a 66-year-old woman died of her injuries in hospital. A 53-year-old woman and a 33-year-old man were injured at the scene, and remain in hospital.
The Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, Shaun Sawyer, said: “We believe we have an incident that is domestically related, that has spilled into the street, and seen several people in Plymouth losing their lives in extraordinarily tragic circumstances.”