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At Least 6 Die In Britain's Deadliest Mass Shooting In More Than A Decade

Police work the scene after a deadly shooting in Plymouth, England, on Thursday.
William Dax
Getty Images
Police work the scene after a deadly shooting in Plymouth, England, on Thursday.

Updated August 13, 2021 at 9:36 AM ET

A gunman in southwest England killed five people, including a young girl, before turning his weapon on himself, police say. It's the deadliest mass shooting in Britain in more than 10 years.

The gunman shot and killed a woman at one address in Plymouth early Thursday evening before killing "a very young girl," Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said in a news conference Friday.

Luke Pollard, a member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, later said in a tweet that one of the victims was younger than 10 years old.

"He also shot and killed a male relative of that girl," Sawyer added. "This was a truly shocking event and was witnessed by members of the public."

In an update on the victims, police said the girl was 3 years old. The first woman who was shot and killed was 51, police said, adding that she "was known to the offender." The other victims who died include two men, ages 43 and 59, and a woman, 66, who died in the hospital.

Sawyer identified the gunman as Jake Davison, 22. The police stressed that the shooting "is not a terrorism related incident."

The death toll is the highest from a shooting in Britain since 2010, when 12 people were killed in Cumbria.

The shooter seemingly fired at anyone he encountered

Police received multiple calls about the shooting in the Keyham area of Plymouth shortly after 6 p.m. local time, Sawyer said. He described how after the first victim was shot at an address on Biddick Drive, the gunman went down the street shooting at other people, in full view of witnesses.

"He aimed and shot at two local residents, a man and a woman who received significant but, we understand at present, not life-threatening injuries," Sawyer said.

The gunman then entered a nearby park, "where he immediately shot a man who died at the scene," Sawyer said. From there, the gunman moved to an adjacent area where he shot another woman who later died at a nearby hospital.

It took only minutes for police — both armed and unarmed — to arrive, Sawyer said. But he added that the attacker then used his gun on himself. Witnesses described the weapon as a pump-action shotgun, he said, adding that a gun recovered from the scene is now undergoing forensic examination.

Questions swirl around gunman, who had posted videos online

Davison had a license to possess a firearm, Sawyer said. But he added that he could not say with certainty whether the weapon used in the attack was the same one the man was licensed to own.

Davison had previously posted videos online in which he discussed feeling isolated and frustrated with his inability to make progress in his life.

"For the most part, it's just been me against the world," he said in one segment, adding that he was frustrated to see other people "getting a free ride to the top."

Davison also compared his life to The Terminator films, saying that despite setbacks, he would keep trying to overcome what he said were the steep odds against him.

"Now I'm so beaten down, and defeated by f***ing life," he said at one point in a video that's being widely circulated by U.K. media. "That drive that I once had has gone."

Davison also spoke about his inability to lose weight and meet women, according to The Guardian. Davison's YouTube account was apparently suspended early Friday; British news outlets that reviewed the footage say Davison compared himself to the "incel" community of men who label themselves as "involuntarily celibate" and express misogyny and hostility toward women.

This is a developing story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.