THE shooting incident in the Keyham area of Plymouth on Thursday of last week “scarred the life of our city”, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt Revd Nick McKinnel, has said. He was speaking at a civic service on Wednesday morning at St Andrew’s Minster Church on Royal Parade, in the city centre.
“Most immediately we feel a deep sense of sadness and sorrow,” Bishop McKinnel said. “We stand alongside those who are bereaved and injured and distresses.” He paid tribute to the emergency services for their “courage and commitment”.
He also called for people to “rise above that apparent need always to point the finger, always to find someone to blame, which is such an unattractive aspect of our culture. There should be anger, but let us direct it at those who disseminate hate and feed on the insecurities, isolation, and bitterness of confused and sick people.”
He went on to describe Plymouth as “a city which, at its best, retains a friendliness, a tolerance and kindness, a sense of right and wrong, the desire to uphold what is good”.
People in Plymouth and elsewhere in the UK observed a one-minute silence on Monday for the victims of the shooting.
A gathering was held outside the Guildhall, on Plymouth Hoe, and at a park close to the scene of last Thursday’s mass killings, in the Keyham district of the town. In Liverpool, traffic was held in the Mersey tunnels, while courts, including the Old Bailey in London, paused in remembrance.
At Plymouth Guildhall, more than 200 people, including civic leaders, religious figures, politicians, emergency-service workers, and members of the military stood silently while a bell was tolled five times — once for each of the victims: Maxine Davison, aged 51; Stephen Washington, 59; Kate Shepherd, 66; Lee Martyn, 43, and his three-year-old daughter, Sophie.
The Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Terri Beer, said: “I know that many people across the country and the world will also be taking a moment to reflect on the dreadful loss that has been suffered in our community.
“I know Plymouth is a place where people stand together during dark times. I hope and believe that we will get through the difficult times that lie ahead as we try to come to terms with the dreadful loss by continuing to support each other.”
Nick Kelly, the leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “As a city, we need to honour and respect those that are from our community. They are lives that have been taken prematurely, and hopefully something positive will come out from this; but, right now, right here, it is very difficult to see beyond just the tragic loss.”
The chairman of Keyham Neighbourhood Watch, Kevin Sproston, spoke about the community’s pulling together. “At the moment, Keyham is grieving,” he said. “We grieve because we love. Grief is love. We are in shock, feel guilty and angry about the events surrounding the deaths of our beloved community members, because we love. And it is that love and energy that we can now use to bring about change.
“As a community, we look to rebuild and restore together. Collectively, we will support each other, and, with help, bring back a community that we want our children to inherit.”
Over the weekend, police lifted the cordons in Biddick Drive and Henderson Place, Keyham, where Jake Davison, 22, shot his victims, and flowers and cards now carpet the pavements.
Nicky Bailey, one of about 80 people who gathered in the nearby North Down Crescent Park, described Thursday’s events as “unfathomable”. She said: “You just don’t believe it will happen around here.”
Over the weekend, prayers were said in churches in Plymouth and across the region. At St Thomas’s, Keyham, they included one that was written specially by the Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, which spoke of neighbours’ rebuilding their lives in “friendship, trust and hope”.
The Vicar, Fr David Way SSC, said: “It’s a time of shock and sadness and horror. But it’s also a time of hope. We have to have faith and hope at this time. Most importantly, we will be praying for those who were killed. But something which has been taxing my mind all the way through is: I also have to pray for mercy for Jake on his soul. As Christians, we have to love our enemies and look with love on people who cause us harm.”