The gunman who shot dead a Metropolitan Police custody sergeant in the early hours of the morning was deemed a 'potential terror threat' and had been referred to the anti-extremism Prevent programme, it was claimed today.
The detained man was said to have been about to be assessed and have his temperature and details taken as part of new booking rules amid the coronavirus pandemic after arriving at Croydon custody centre in South London.
But he shot the officer point-blank - allegedly in the chest - at about 2.15am this morning following his arrest on suspicion of possessing ammunition. Officers and paramedics then treated the officer - who was said to have been nearing retirement - at the scene before he was taken to hospital where he later died.
The arrested man - who is still alive in hospital despite turning the gun on himself - had been arrested by a special constable with a normal officer on patrol after he was seen behaving strangely.
They searched him and allegedly found ammunition on him, before handcuffing him and driving him in a patrol car to the custody centre. The man is understood to have been put into a holding cell, and the officer who died then opened the door to get his personal details and go through the station's Covid-19 procedures. It is believed that the suspect then produced the gun and shot the officer.
Scotland Yard have not yet confirmed if he was on the radar of counter-terrorism police following the claims made by BBC News. However, it is believed that he had been referred to the Prevent programme.
According to The Times While the suspect had been on the extremism radar, sources said that it was a relatively minor matter and it was not deemed necessary for MI5 or counterterrorism police to investigate him. At this stage the shooting is being treated as a murder inquiry with no links to terrorism.
The Telegraph's Crime Correspondent Martin Evans understands that the suspect may be of Sri Lankan origin. That rules out white supremist right-wing terror, but not the Tamil Tigers. Quite why a Tamil Tiger would find his cause served by murdering a custody sergeant in an unglamorous part of south London I don't know. I think it unlikely. Which is why my money is currently on one of the Muslim insurgency groups currently waging jihad in and out of Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean. We'll see.
Det Insp Richard Berns described his colleague as "hard working and an inspiration to all who knew him. It was a privilege to have worked with him and known him over so many years," he said. "He was was one of a kind and will be deeply missed. Rest in peace my friend."
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