Cumbria shootings: 'We heard a couple of gunshots and the police running about'

STAFF at a Whitehaven solicitors office said they heard gunshots and saw police running down the a busy street following a shooting incident in the town.

Police guard Duke Street in Whitehaven, scene of a shooting incident today

Helen Owens, who works at solicitors' practice Brockbank, Cain and Hall on Duke Street in Whitehaven, said one of her colleagues saw a dead man on the street.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said: "We heard a couple of gunshots and the police running about.

"One of our secretaries was out at the time and she saw a guy lying dead on the ground covered with a sheet – she saw his trainers sticking out.

"There's police tape across it so we can't see exactly what happened but saw a policeman running across the street.

"We have also heard there was another shooting at Morrisons car park, which is about five minutes away.

"We have the door locked. There's a police station two minutes away, very close to it."

Celia MacKenzie, chief executive of the Rum Story, a tourist attraction in Whitehaven, said police ordered a lockdown when the shooting began.

She said: "The police advised the owners to lock the doors and not let anybody in that they didn't know."

The doors stayed locked for around 40-45 minutes, she said.

"The police advised people all around the area that there should be a lockdown."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Whitehaven resident Tony Jenkinson, 58, spoke of his disbelief at how quiet it was at the time of the incident.

"I was in town for an appointment at 10am and that must have finished at around 10.30am," he said.

"I was in the area and it was normal.

"I didn't hear or see anything. Nothing had been cordoned off. This sort of thing just does not happen here. Whitehaven is a safe place."

Janis Howes, 63, who also lives in Duke Street, said that she heard bangs but initially assumed it was a road accident.

She said: "We get a lot of bumps from people having accidents coming around the corner so when I heard the noise I looked out of the window and couldn't see anything.

"Later when I went out somebody came out of a shop door and said 'you've got to get off the street'. We were stuck in Peacocks until I asked to go back home.

"You just don't expect this. I saw a body, the police had covered it up and I could see the legs. You see people who have collapsed in the street but when you realise it's a body it's not at all the same."

Alan Hannah, 68, of Great Broughton, told the Whitehaven News: "As I turned past the police station, I saw all these officers running out and realised something major was going on so I moved over to the right-hand lane.

"Then a car pulled up on the left, stopping at the lights.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I saw a man with a large shotgun and his windscreen was smashed. I drove through the red light to get into Lowther Street and get out of the way. I got home safely but was very shaken."

The area's MP Jamie Reed told BBC Radio 4's The World At One: "This kind of thing doesn't happen in our part of the world. We have got one of the lowest, if not the lowest, crime rates in the country.

"This is a shock to the system. We are all living in a daze right now."

Related topics: