Friday, 11 July 2014

Mass killings in the United Kingdom (Part 1)

The people in the UK are subjected to the crimes of mass murderers just as the people in other countries are. What follows are the stories of some of those horrible people who committed those crimes in the U.K.                              

Michael Robert Ryan 

This killer was born in May, 1960. He was an unemployed labourer and antiques dealer. In his possessions were magazines about survival skills and firearms and a magazine titled, Soldier of Fortune.   Press reports claimed that he was also obsessed with the Rambo film, First Blood. He was also mentally ill. This doesn’t necessarily mean that people who read such magazines and are obsessed with watching extremely violent war-type movies are mentally ill but in my opinion, many of them are immature and when you combine immaturity with mental illness, it is like striking a match over the fumes of gasoline. The result is inevitable.

His first shooting occurred seven miles (11 km) to the west of Hungerford in the Savernake Forest in Wiltshire, at 12:30 in the afternoon of  August 19. Susan Godfrey, 35, had come to the area with her two children; Hannah, 4, and James, 2 from Reading, Berkshire for a family picnic. Ryan approached them with his gun raised and forced Susan to place the children in her Nissan. He then marched her into bushes at gunpoint and shot her thirteen times in the back with the Beretta pistol. Police were alerted to the scene after Mrs. Godfrey's two children approached a pensioner, Myra Rose. Hannah told Rose that a “man in black has shot our mummy.” Authorities were still responding when Ryan continued his massacre elsewhere.

Ryan drove his silver Vauxhall Astra from the forest along Highway A4 towards Hungerford, and stopped at a petrol station three miles (5 km) from the town. After waiting for a motorcyclist, Ian George, to depart from the garage, he began to pump petrol into his car before shooting at the cashier, Mrs. Kakaub Dean, missing her. Ryan entered the store and again tried to shoot her at close range with his M1 carbine, but the rifle's magazine had fallen out, probably because he inadvertently hit the release mechanism. He then left and continued towards Hungerford. Meanwhile, George, having witnessed the attempted shooting of Dean, stopped in the village of Froxfield and placed the first emergency call to the police, reporting that he had seen an attempted armed robbery.
At around 12:45, Ryan was seen at his home in South View, Hungerford. He loaded his car with his weapons, and attempted to drive away, but the car would not start. He then fired five shots into the back of the car. Neighbours reported seeing him agitatedly moving between the house and the car before he returned indoors and shot the family dog. Ryan then doused his home with the petrol he had bought earlier in the day and set his house on fire. The fire subsequently destroyed three surrounding properties. Ryan then removed the three shotguns from the boot of his car and shot and killed husband and wife Roland and Sheila Mason, who were in the back garden of their house after fleeing from their house, Sheila was shot once in her head and Roland six times in his back.
Ryan then walked towards the center of Hungerford injuring two more people; Marjorie Jackson who was shot as she watched Ryan from the window of her living room and 14-year-old Lisa Mildenhall who was shot in both legs as she stood outside her home. Mildenhall later recalled that Ryan smiled at her before crouching and shooting her. Jackson then pulled Dorothy Smith, 77 into her home as Smith rebuked Ryan for making noise. Jackson then telephoned George White, a colleague of her husband Ivor Jackson. She informed White that she had been injured. Her husband insisted on returning home and George White offered to drive him to his home.

On the footpath towards the Common, (place where people gather) Ryan came across a family walking their dog. Upon seeing Ryan with his weapons, 51-year-old Kenneth Clements raised his arms in a gesture of surrender as his family climbed over a wall and ran to safety. Ryan ignored the gesture and killed Clements, who fell to the ground still clutching the lead of his dog.

Looping back to South View, Ryan fired 23 rounds at Police Constable Roger Brereton, a police officer who had just arrived at the scene in his patrol car in response to reports of gunfire. Brereton was hit four times: his car veered and crashed into a telephone pole. He died sitting in his patrol car, radioing to his colleagues that he had been shot.

Ryan next turned his weapons on Linda Chapman and her teenage daughter, Alison, who had turned their car onto South View moments after Brereton was shot. Ryan fired 11 bullets from his semi-automatic into their Volvo 360; the bullets travelled through the bonnet of the car, hitting Alison in her right thigh. Ryan also shot through the windscreen, hitting Linda in the left shoulder. As Ryan reloaded his weapons, Linda reversed the car, exited South View and drove to the local doctor's, crashing into a tree outside the doctor’s office. A bullet was subsequently found lodged at the base of Alison's spine; during a subsequent operation to remove it, surgeons decided that the risk of paralysis was too great, and the bullet was left in place.

After the Chapmans had driven away from South View, George White's Toyota Crown drove towards Ryan; Ivor Jackson was in the passenger seat. Ryan opened fire with his Type 56, leaving White dead and Ivor Jackson severely injured. White's Toyota crashed into the rear of PC Brereton's police car. Jackson feigned death and hoped that Ryan would not move in for a closer look.
Ryan moved along Fairview Road, killing Abdul Rahman Khan who was mowing his lawn. Further along the road he wounded his next door neighbour, Alan Lepetit, who had helped build Ryan's gun display unit. He then shot at an ambulance which had just arrived, shattering the window and injuring paramedic Hazel Haslett, who sped away before Ryan was able to fire at her again.

A crowd had now gathered, and Ryan shot at windows and at people who appeared on the street. Ryan's mother, Dorothy, then drove into South View and was confronted by her burning house, her armed son, and dead and injured strewn along the street. Ivor Jackson, who had been shot four times, was still slumped in White's Toyota. He heard Dorothy Ryan open the door of White's Toyota and say, "Oh, Ivor..." before attempting in vain to reason with her son. Ryan shot his mother dead as she raised her arms and pleaded with him not to shoot. Ryan then wounded Mrs. Betty Tolladay, who had stepped out of her house to admonish Ryan for making noise, as she had assumed he was shooting at paper targets in the woods. He then ran towards Hungerford Common.

By now, the police were informed of the situation but the evacuation plan was not fully effective. Ryan's movements were tracked via police helicopter almost an hour after he set his home alight, but this was hampered by media helicopters and journalists responding to reports of the attacks. A single police officer, who observed Ryan, recommended that armed police be used, as the weapons he saw were beyond the capabilities of Hungerford police station's meagre firearms locker.

On Hungerford Common, Ryan went on to shoot and kill young father-of-two, Francis Butler, as he walked his dog, and shot at, but missed, teenager Andrew Cadle, who sped away on his bicycle. Local cabbie Marcus Barnard slowed down his Peugeot 309 as Ryan crossed in front of him. Ryan shot him with the Type 56, causing a massive injury to his head and killing him. Barnard had been redirected towards the Common by a police diversion as communication between ground forces and the police helicopter remained sporadic. Mrs. Ann Honeybone was slightly injured by a bullet as she drove down Priory Avenue. Ryan then shot at John Storms, an ambulance repairman who was parked on Priory Avenue. Hit in the face, Storms crouched below the dashboard of his vehicle. He heard Ryan fire twice more at his van and felt the vehicle shake, but he was not hit again. A local builder named Bob Barclay ran from his nearby house and dragged Storms out of his van and into the safety of his home.

Ryan then walked towards the town centre of Hungerford, where police were attempting to evacuate the public. During this, Ryan killed 67-year-old Douglas Wainwright and injured his wife Kathleen who were both in their car. Kathleen Wainwright would later say that her husband hit the brakes as soon as the windscreen shattered. Ryan fired eight rounds into the Wainwrights' Datsun Bluebird, hitting Douglas in the head and Kathleen in the chest and hand. Mrs. Wainwright, seeing that her husband was dead and that Ryan was approaching the car whilst reloading, unbuckled her seatbelt and ran from the car. The pair were visiting their son, a policeman on the Hungerford force. Coincidentally, Constable Wainwright had signed Ryan's request to extend his firearm certificate only weeks earlier. Next was Kevin Lance, who was shot in the upper arm as he drove his Ford Transit along Tarrant's Hill.

Further up Priory Avenue, a 51-year-old handyman named Eric Vardy and his passenger, Steven Ball, drove into Ryan's path while travelling to a job in Vardy's Leyland Sherpa. Ball later recalled that he saw a young man (Kevin Lance) clutching his arm and running into a narrow side street. As Ball focused on Lance, Ryan shattered the windscreen with a burst of bullets. Vardy was hit twice in the neck and upper torso  and crashed his van into a wall. Eric Vardy would later die of shock and loss of blood from his neck wound. Ball suffered no serious injuries.

As he walked about the town, Ryan had also opened fire on a number of other people, some of whom were grazed or  ended up as walking wounded. Many of these minor casualties were not counted in the eventual total.

At around 13:30, Ryan crossed Orchard Park Close into Priory Road, firing a single round at a passing red Renault. This shot fatally wounded the driver, 22-year-old Sandra Hill. A passing soldier, Carl Harries, rushed to Hill's car and attempted in vain to apply first aid, but Hill died in his arms.

After shooting Hill, Ryan shot his way into a house further down Priory Road and killed the occupants: Jack and Myrtle Gibbs. Jack Gibbs was killed instantly as he attempted to shield his wheelchair-bound wife, Myrtle, from Ryan with his own body. Myrtle succumbed to her injuries two days later. Ryan also fired shots into neighbouring houses from the Gibbs' house, injuring Mr. Michael Jennings at 62 Priory Road and Mrs. Myra Geater at 71 Priory Road.

Ryan continued down Priory Road where he spotted 34-year-old Ian Playle, who was returning from a shopping trip with his wife and two young children in their Ford Sierra. Playle crashed into a stationary car after being shot in the neck by Ryan. His wife and children were unhurt. Carl Harries again rushed over to administer first aid, but Playle’s wound proved to be fatal  as he died in an Oxford hospital two days later.

After shooting and injuring 66 year old George Noon in his garden, Ryan broke into the John O’Gaunt Community Technology College. Ryan barricaded himself in a classroom in the College, where he had previously been a pupil. It was closed and empty for the summer holidays. Police surrounded the building and found a number of ground-staff and two children who had seen Ryan enter. The staff offered guidance to the Police on how to enter, and of hiding places. Ryan shot at circling helicopters and waved what appeared to be an unpinned grenade through the window, though reports differ whether Ryan had one. Police attempted negotiations to coax Ryan out of the school, but these attempts failed. He refused to leave before knowing what happened to his mother, saying that her death was “a mistake”.

At 6:52, Ryan committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with his Beretta pistol. One of the statements Ryan made towards the end of the negotiations was widely reported: “Hungerford must be a bit of a mess. I wish I had stayed in bed.” A great many people wished he had stayed in bed.

I know what you are asking yourself. “Why were there not more police on hand?” Here are the answers.

1.               The telephone exchange could not handle the number of 999 calls made by witnesses.

2.              The Thames Valley firearms squad were training 40 miles away.

3.              The police helicopter was in for repair, though it was eventually deployed.

4.              Only two phone lines were in operation at the local police station which was undergoing renovation.

5.               By chance there was a British special forces team (SAS) passing the area on return from a training exercise. They were armed as usual including instant CS gas, a non lethal weapon. Upon reaching the police cordon they asked the policeman in charge if they could help. Their intention was to 'gas and bag' Ryan. Their offer was turned down so Ryan kept shooting his victims.

Why did the officer in charge refuse the offer of the SAS? Was it because he wanted his men under his leadership to have the sole credit of subduing Ryan?

This was unquestionably a disaster in that town and surrounding area. Could it have been prevented? Not at that particular time. Fate being as it is, was not in the victim’s favour. Ryan didn’t commence his shootings because he knew in advance that the police would not be on the scene soon after he began his shooting. It is simply an unfortunate coincidence that he chose that particular day to kill people.

Now here is the most difficult question. “Why did he do it?”

For the most part, there are specific reasons why some of these killers do these acts. Something builds up in their minds and feelings and turn to hatred, until they can no longer take it. The sparks that ignite the explosive in their minds can be the result from being bullied, being fired from a job, a hatred for some of the victims, or worst of all, wanting to exercise the power of life and death over human beings.

Alas, we will never really know what the cause of his desire to kill human beings since he killed himself before psychiatrists could examine him. I said at the beginning of this article that Ryan was mentally ill. I didn’t say he was insane because he knew what he was doing and that it was wrong. But anyone who slaughters 16 innocent people and wounds another 15 is definitely suffering from some form of mental illness. It is too bad that his illness wasn’t discovered and treated earlier.

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