Plymouth shooting

The Plymouth shooting was a mass murder in Keyham, Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom, on 12 August 2021. The gunman, 22-year-old Jake Davison, shot and killed five people and injured two others before fatally shooting himself. Police have not identified a motive.

Plymouth shooting
LocationKeyham, Plymouth, Devon, UK
Coordinates50°23′27″N 4°10′15″W / 50.39083°N 4.17083°W / 50.39083; -4.17083Coordinates: 50°23′27″N 4°10′15″W / 50.39083°N 4.17083°W / 50.39083; -4.17083
Date12 August 2021
c. 18:11 (BST)
Attack type
Mass murder, mass shooting, murder–suicide
WeaponsShotgun
Deaths6 (including the perpetrator)
Injured2
VictimsResidents of Keyham
PerpetratorJake Davison
MotiveUndetermined

It was the first fatal mass shooting in the UK since the Cumbria shootings of 2010. The Home Office announced that it would issue updated guidelines for firearms licence applications.

BackgroundEdit

Mass shootings are very rare in the United Kingdom. It is necessary to have either a firearms certificate (FAC) or a shotgun certificate (SGC) to legally own most classes of permitted firearms; in Great Britain,[a] certificates are granted by the local policing authority.[2] For an FAC, the applicant must demonstrate a good reason for owning the particular firearm, as well as having certified secure storage, while an SGC only requires the latter; both types of certificate require a background check.[1]

The most recent previous fatal mass shooting in the UK was in Cumbria in 2010, when lone gunman Derrick Bird killed 12 people using two licensed firearms.[3]

Shooting and emergency responseEdit

 
Henderson Place, the street where the shooting ended (pictured in 2010)

At 18:11 BST (UTC+1) on 12 August 2021,[4] police received reports of shots having been fired inside a house on Biddick Drive, a residential street in the Keyham area of Plymouth, Devon;[5] within the house, 22-year-old Jake Davison had killed his 51-year-old mother after an argument.[6][7][8] He then left the house with what witnesses described as a pump-action shotgun, and shot and killed a 3-year-old girl and her 43-year-old father in the street.[9] Next, he injured a 53-year-old woman and her 33-year-old son in a house on Biddick Drive,[10] before shooting and killing a 59-year-old man in a nearby park.[11] Davison then went to Henderson Place, where he shot and fatally wounded a 66-year-old woman; he told a passing resident that there was "nothing to worry about, mate".[12] Shortly before killing himself, Davison was described as "walking like [he] was on patrol, like a soldier with a gun" and with a "blank expression".[5] At 18:23, Davison shot himself on Henderson Place.[12][4]

 
G-DAAN, one of the air ambulances that attended the scene[13] (pictured in 2013)

Devon and Cornwall Police and the South Western Ambulance Service were alerted to the incident at 18:11 and 18:12, respectively.[13] The ambulance service responded with a significant number of resources, including hazardous area response teams, ambulances, four air ambulances, doctors, and senior paramedics.[13] The responding police officers attended the scene within six minutes of the emergency calls, and they subsequently found the bodies of Davison and four of the victims.[8] They described the events as a "serious firearms incident" and established thirteen different crime scenes within the cordoned area.[14][15]

The woman shot in Henderson Place was treated at the scene for gunshot wounds but later died in Derriford Hospital.[4][16] The two survivors received significant but non-life-threatening injuries.[17] At 21:25, the police reported they believed the incident to be contained.[18]

PerpetratorEdit

The gunman was named by police as Jake Davison.[19] He was a 22-year-old apprentice crane operator at security and defence company Babcock International.[8][20][21] The chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Shaun Sawyer, said that Davison's motive was unknown, but that police believed the shooting was a "domestic incident [that] spilled into the streets".[4] He stated that police were not considering terrorism as a motive,[4] although commentators have questioned whether Davison's ideologies constitute terrorism.[22][23]

Davison was a regular visitor to the Shetland Islands, a remote destination in the UK, where he spent long periods of time with his mother's relatives, where initial concerns were raised about his mental state.[24] In 2016, Davison was reported to the police for allegedly attacking a man and the man's pregnant girlfriend not far from where the shooting would occur. Davison was warned by police but not prosecuted.[25] A close source to the family said that Davison had recently deteriorated after suffering from mental health problems for most of his life, and that his mother was "begging for help from the authorities but nobody did a welfare check".[26] During the UK's COVID-19 lockdowns in the 18 months before the shooting, Davison had accessed a local mental health support charity.[27]

Davison had been licensed to own a firearm since 2018, and police believe he used a legally held firearm in the shooting.[21][28] Police had removed Davison's shotgun and licence in December 2020 following an assault allegation described as "a row with two youths",[29] but they returned them in early July 2021,[30] a month before the killings, after he completed an anger management course.[29][31] Following Devon and Cornwall Police's self-referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the IOPC is investigating the service's previous dealings with Davison, its decision to grant a firearms licence and the decision to reinstate the licence, and return his gun, after it was temporarily revoked.[32][10]

Misogynistic and incel-related viewsEdit

Davison uploaded videos to YouTube under the name "Professor Waffle".[33] His videos included references to "inceldom", the black pill ideology and general nihilism.[34] In his last video, Davison described himself as "beaten down and defeated by life" and said: "I wouldn't clarify [sic] myself as an incel but have talked to people similar to me who have had nothing but themselves."[35][7]

Davison expressed misogynist and homophobic views, and used Reddit to share hostility and resentment towards his mother, who had repeatedly attempted to obtain – and persuade him to receive – treatment for his mental health.[7] On Reddit, he subscribed to incel-related content, and other clips of his videos contained further references to – and used terminology of – that community. In one clip, he discussed "missing out on a teenage romance" and referred to "Chads", slang for a confident, sexually active man. He said he had considered using drugs to "make up for that missed teenage experience" and that "I have a feeling like I missed that boat and it's never coming back".[34]

Davison was also active in gun enthusiast subreddits.[36][34] Reddit suspended his account a day before the shooting for making inappropriate comments to a 16-year-old female American Reddit user. Davison had initially been friendly with the girl and had discussed having a relationship with her, before the conversation soured and he began to repeatedly ask to have sex with her. According to the report, the girl complained that he had repeatedly asked her to date him, travel to see him, and have sex with him, and had made comments about how sex with someone of her age is acceptable because it was legal in the UK. Various users urged her to report him to the police, but she wrote that she did not know what to do and had been advised by her mother not to get involved.[37]

Davison's mother had begun to argue with her son over his sexist views and diatribes on women in the months before the shooting. A neighbour said Davison and his mother "used to be close [...] but then his views changed and he went against women and he became a misogynist [...] they clashed a lot about that." Davison had a physical confrontation with his father shortly before the shooting.[38] Davison's Facebook and YouTube accounts were terminated in line with the sites' behavioural policies.[39]

ReactionsEdit

An evening vigil was held on 13 August at North Down Crescent Park in Keyham.[40] Flags in the city were flown at half-mast, and Smeaton's Tower was lit up that evening as a mark of respect.[41]

Books of condolence were made available in several locations, along with an online book on the Plymouth City Council's website.[42] Several memorials were placed at areas close to the crime scenes, where flowers and cards were laid, as well as further impromptu vigils being held by residents.[43]

On 19 August the inquest into the deaths of Davison and his five victims was opened in Plymouth.[44] DI Steve Hambly, who is leading the investigation, codenamed Operation Lillypad,[15][b] said that apart from Davison's mother, the victims had been attacked by a person not known to them. The senior coroner in Plymouth, Ian Arrow, asked the IOPC to examine the case of Michael Atherton, 42, who killed his partner, her sister and her niece before killing himself on New Year's Day 2012 in County Durham.[45]

Firearm licensingEdit

On 15 August 2021, the government announced that it would issue guidance to require police to investigate social media posts of firearms licence applicants and current holders.[46][47] Before the new guidance is published, the Home Office asked all police services in England and Wales to immediately "to review their practices and whether any existing licences need to be looked at again".[48]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Within the United Kingdom, regulations for shotgun and firearms ownership in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) differ from those in Northern Ireland.[1]
  2. ^ Some sources give the name as Operation Lily Pad[45]

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ "Shotgun and firearm certificates - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. UK Government. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  3. ^ Picheta, Rob; Kent, Lauren. "Five dead and suspect killed after 'devastating' shooting in England". CNN. Archived from the original on 13 August 2021. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
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