Special prayers planned as Plymouth continues to mourn shooting victims

Churches across Devon are expected to use their Sunday services to remember those killed in Keyham on Thursday.

Special prayers planned as Plymouth continues to mourn shooting victims

Special prayers are set to be said in Plymouth on Sunday as the city mourns the five people killed in a shooting spree which has left the local community shocked and saddened.

Concerns have been raised over how gunman Jake Davison, 22, obtained a firearms licence and carried out his rampage before turning the gun on himself.

Churches across Devon, including St Thomas’ Church in Keyham, are expected to use their Sunday services to remember the victims, with a special prayer written by the Bishop of Exeter, Robert Atwell.

Father David Way, the vicar of St Thomas’, told BBC Breakfast: “Most importantly we will be praying for those who were killed.

“But something which has been taxing my mind all the way through is I also have to pray for mercy for Jake on his soul. As Christians, we have to love our enemies, and look with love on people who cause us harm.

“So yes, the community is in my heart, the people who died innocently are in my heart and in my prayers, but also everybody involved in this situation, I have to make sure we keep in our prayers.”

It comes as a former Metropolitan Police chief said officers should trawl through social media accounts of people applying for firearms licences to ensure that “guns do not fall into the hands of dangerous people”.

Former commissioner Lord Stevens told The Sunday Telegraph that Davison was “clearly a dangerous man”, adding: “The videos he made should have been taken into account when he applied for a shotgun licence.

“There needs to be a trawling of online content for an in-depth assessment of who these people are and what they think.”

Social media posts and interactions offered insight into the mind of a man who was interested in guns and America, while his social media usage suggests an obsession with the “incel” culture, meaning “involuntary celibate”.

Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of dragging her feet over advice to tighten the rules on issuing firearms and shotgun licences.

Plymouth incident
Priti Patel laid a floral tribute close to the scene on Saturday (Ben Birchall/PA)

A Tory source hit back accusing the Liberal Democrats of “playing politics” just days after the killings.

Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said there was a “sense of anger” among local residents at how the events of the atrocity unfolded.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I think people’s emotions have changed from shock and disbelief into now feeling that profound loss of the five people who were killed.

“But also a sense of anger. Wanting to know the questions as to how was this allowed to happen, why did this happen, and were there opportunities to stop this happening that were not taken?

Plymouth incident
Davison killed his mother before going on to shoot dead four more people (PA)

An investigation is already under way into Davison’s possession of a shotgun and a firearms licence, which were returned to him after being removed at the end of last year.

The police watchdog launched an investigation following a mandatory referral from Devon and Cornwall Police, which contains preliminary information that Davison’s firearm and licence were returned to him in early July this year.

The certificate and shotgun had been removed by police in December 2020 following an allegation of assault in September 2020, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.

However, Davison’s firearms licence was returned after he attended an anger management course, according to reports.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the launch of the investigation by the IOPC, but asked: “How on earth did he get a gun licence in the first place?”

Plymouth shooting
(PA Graphics)

In the 12-minute attack witnessed by horrified onlookers, Davison then killed Stephen Washington, 59, in a nearby park before shooting 66-year-old Kate Shepherd, who later died at Derriford Hospital.

Davison also shot two local residents who are known to each other, a 33-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman, in Biddick Drive, who suffered significant injuries but which are not believed to be life-threatening.

Devon and Cornwall Police said they received multiple calls about the incident at 6.11pm on Thursday, with armed and unarmed officers arriving at the scene within six minutes and Davison found dead by 6.23pm.

Plymouth incident
Floral tributes have been left by the scene in Keyham (Ben Birchall/PA)

Devon and Cornwall Police said on Saturday that an online page has been launched for those who may have information to assist with the investigation into the mass shooting.

The force added that post-mortem examinations are taking place and due to continue into early next week.

It is believed the mass shooting, which police are yet to establish a motive for, began with a “domestic-related incident” between Davison and his mother.

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