Gunman who shot dead officer during search ‘was known to terror police’

The suspect who shot dead a police officer at a south London station during a Covid check was on the terror police radar, reports have claimed.

An unnamed custody sergeant died in the early hours of Friday morning after he was gunned down while booking in a man suspected of having ammunition at Croydon Custody Centre.

The suspect, who was handcuffed, managed to pull a gun from his trousers before shooting the veteran officer in the chest.

He then turned the gun on himself.

The 23-year-old suspect, who is still critically injured in hospital, was known to counter-terror police.

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It is thought he was on their radar in the past, but this hasn't been confirmed by the Met Police, the BBC reports.

Police watchdog investigators are still probing the arrest to try and work out how the gun was missed when the man was searched.

The suspect was detained by special constables after he was reportedly seen "acting suspiciously" and was taken by van to the custody suite in Windmill Lane just after 2am.

It is believed that the sergeant, thought to have been with the force for almost 30 years, was just months from retirement.

Due to new Covid booking rules, he went to "meet and greet" the suspect at the station.

The shooting is thought to have taken place inside the custody suite as the prisoner was about to be assessed and have his temperature and details taken.

His colleagues and medics desperately tried to save him, but he was rushed to hospital where he tragically died.

Lisa Verrilli, a local cafe worker, said she saw the officer several times a week when he would visit for lunch.

The 39-year-old said: "He was only in here two days ago – it's absolutely heartbreaking.

"My heart goes out to his family. He was a true gent.

"He was a very proud dad and a devoted family man. He'd been in the force for a long time.

"Despite a demanding job he was always in a good mood. He was happy and cheerful."

Floral tributes have been left outside the Croydon Custody Centre by fellow officers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among those who paid tribute.

He tweeted: "My deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the police officer who was killed in Croydon last night.

"We owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also responded on Twitter, writing: "Devastated by this news. My heart goes out to the family of this brave officer, who has paid the ultimate price for helping to keep Londoners safe.

"Tragic incidents like this are terrible reminders of the dangers our police officers face every single day."

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