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London: Police officer shot dead by man in custody

A police officer was shot dead in a custody center in Croydon, south London, on Friday, the Metropolitan Police and local media reported.

The suspect was a 23-year-old detainee, who had already been arrested. He was taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound. The victim was shot at 2.15 a.m. on Friday.

The Met said no police firearms were fired, and that it appeared the suspect had shot himself. 

Sky News reported that the victim was married and had children, and was thought to have been an officer for almost 30 years, and worked as a custody sergeant at the Croydon custody center.

The officer was treated at the scene and then taken to a hospital, but then died, the Met said in a statement.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “Early indications are that the suspect shot himself. This has not yet, of course, been established as a fact. The man, I can tell you, remains in a critical condition in hospital.”

The identity of the officer has not been released as the police are still trying to inform all his close family, some of whom live abroad.

“This terrible incident underlines again how police officers face danger every single day, 24/7, 365, in their work to protect our public,” she said.

“This is a truly shocking incident in which one of our colleagues has lost his life in the most tragic circumstances. My heart goes out to his family, direct colleagues and friends.”

Dick added: “We are in the early stages of the investigation and are still working to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident and we will provide further updates when we have them.”

Sky News reported that the suspect was arrested in the early hours of Friday after being stopped and searched by police. They found ammunition in his possession and arrested him. 

He was put in a police car or van but was reportedly not handcuffed. He was then transferred to a holding cell as is procedure.

The officer who died opened the door to the cell to get the suspect's personal details and go through coronavirus procedures. The suspect then produced a weapon and fired at the officer, Sky News reported.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I am deeply shocked and saddened to learn that a Metropolitan Police Officer has been shot and killed in the line of duty. My thoughts today are with his family, friends and policing colleagues in London and across the country.”

“This is a sad day for our country and another terrible reminder of how our police officers put themselves in danger each and every day to keep the rest of us safe,” Patel added.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle also sent their condolences.

The Met will lead the murder investigation, but the incident has also been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

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