Two young unarmed policewomen were shot dead today, before one of Britain’s most wanted men was arrested on suspicion of murder after handing himself in at a police station.
Pc Fiona Bone, 32, and Pc Nicola Hughes, 23, were attending a report of a burglary in Hattersley, Greater Manchester, when they were attacked with a gun and a grenade shortly before 11am.
Shortly after the attack, Dale Cregan, 29, who was already wanted in connection with separate gun and grenade attacks that killed a father and son, gave himself up at a nearby police station in Hyde.
One officer died at the scene. The other was taken to hospital but died later. An ambulance left the cordon – with the body of Pc Bone believed to be inside – as officers formed a guard of honour.
Police said there was nothing in the burglary report to suggest that armed officers would be required.
Cregan had been on the run following the father and son attacks in May and August – and police urged him earlier this month to give himself up.
Cregan was arrested at Manchester Airport in June and questioned over the son Mark Short’s murder, before being bailed pending further investigation. A manhunt then began for him after the father David Short’s murder in August.
Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said the officers were sent to probe what appeared to be a routine burglary report when they were attacked with a gun and grenade.
Sir Peter paid tribute to Pc Bone, who had been with the force for five years. He described her as a ‘calm, gentle woman’ and an ‘excellent bobby’ who was in the middle of planning her wedding.
He added that Pc Hughes, a ‘bubbly’ woman who loved karate and socialising, had served for three years and was a ‘good listener’, ‘lovely friend’ and ‘could not do enough for people’.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the killings were ‘a shocking reminder of the debt we owe to those who put themselves in danger to keep us safe and secure’.
He added later that what happened was an ‘absolutely despicable act of pure evil’ and served as ‘another reminder of the incredible risks and great work our police service does’.
Sir Peter said the force was ‘devastated’ by its loss and described today as ‘one of the darkest days in the history of the Greater Manchester Police – if not for the police service overall’.
The Chief Constable said it was routine to send unarmed officers to a burglary call, adding that this morning either Cregan or someone else reported a burglary on the Abbey Gardens road in the area.
He said: ‘Certainly we believe the grenade was thrown at the officers but we have not been able to be specific about the injuries the officers suffered or how they died.’
The outrage prompted renewed calls for the routine arming of police, but Sir Peter insisted his force believed ‘passionately’ that police should remain unarmed, despite the tragedy.
He added: ‘Sadly we know from the experience in America and other countries, that having armed officers certainly does not mean, sadly, that police officers do not end up getting shot.’
Cregan, who only has one eye, had been the subject of a huge manhunt after the murders of David Short, 46, and his son Mark, 23.
A £50,000 reward had been offered for information leading to his arrest.
– Daily Mail