Hunt stepped up for police officer's killer

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DETECTIVES hunting for a gunman who killed one policeman and injured another when he opened fire during a routine traffic inquiry were last night at the hospital bedside of the wounded officer.

Their suspicions are that the wanted man is a horse-racing fan, because he was reading a racing newspaper when first approached by the officers. Audio tapes in the traffic car where he was taken reveal he had an American or Canadian accent.

PC Neil Roper, 45, a father of two, is recovering after emergency surgery for wounds received when he was hit twice during the attack in Leeds, West Yorkshire, on Boxing Day.

His colleague, Ian Broadhurst, 34, from Cookridge, Leeds, was killed in the attack, which started when officers spotted a car parked on the pavement near to a row of shops in the city’s Dib Lane.

Yesterday, PC Broadhurst’s widow, Eilisa, visited the scene where he was shot dead.

Officers spoke to PC Roper, of Wakefield, briefly on Saturday night, but were "in the hands of the hospital" as to how much time they could spend with him, said a West Yorkshire Police spokesman.

Detective Superintendent Chris Gregg, who is leading the investigation, said: "He is doing extremely well considering his ordeal. We are building up information from Neil Roper. We will be speaking to him later to try to fill in the blanks."

The injured officer was said to be "deeply distressed" over the death of his colleague.

A third officer, PC James Banks, 26, who had been called to assist the traffic officers after they said they had an uneasy feeling about the suspect, escaped injury when a bullet damaged his radio and baton harness. Officers said that it was only by luck that both PCs Roper and Banks had not been killed.

Mr Gregg said the gunman’s actions were "certain to kill".

He added: "It’s only by good fortune that not more than Ian was killed in these events."

Detectives believe the gunman fired five shots. "He fired a number of shots, each one with some precision. It’s possible he has some experience of firearms," Mr Gregg said. " James and Neil are very, very fortunate to have survived this incident."

It also emerged yesterday that the traffic officers had turned on the audio and video recording systems in their car while the gunman was sitting in the rear seat. The tapes have been sent for further examination.

Mr Gregg said the gunman was talking in a "calm, controlled manner" and told officers he was born in Canada, but had been living in Leeds "for a while".

Officers have recovered copies of the Racing Post and the Yorkshire Evening Post from the gunman’s car, both dated the same day, 26 December, and are looking for information on where he may have bought these.

Mr Gregg said: "I have to reiterate that we are looking for an extremely dangerous man and it is vital that we trace him as soon as possible."

Officers said the gun used was a black, self-loading pistol. The bullet cases and ammunition recovered from the scene were of a "common" type.

Police were also speaking to two people who had possession of the stolen BMW car, with the false registration plate V948 FGJ, in March in Sheffield, who claim to have bought it legitimately.

A ticket for a Leeds city-centre car park was also discovered underneath one of the seats, dated October.

Assistant Chief Constable John Sampson, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "There’s a grim determination to track down the killer of our colleague.

"If any team can identify and arrest this killer, it is this team."

The News of the World newspaper and Michael Winner, the millionaire film producer, have announced a joint 20,000 reward for help in catching the gunman.

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