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July 22, 2005

Suspected Bomber on Tube Shot Dead.

Sky News is reporting that a suspected suicide bomber has been shot dead at Stockwell Underground station. According to their reporter at New Scotland Yard this has been confirmed by police.

A precis of what the reporter said is that the police hve a shoot to kill policy if there is a suspected bomber about to set off a bomb. A shot to the head is called for.

Nosemonkey at Europhobia is reporting on this.

As he points out at 11.02, Met Police confirm the shooting. Five times he was shot.

BBC site and Sky.

I hope to hell for all our sakes that he was indeed a bomber. If they’ve gunned down some poor schlep in error this will just increase the hatred.

11.15. Breaking news on Sky. Armed police have surrounded a mosque in East London.

From Rob in comments. Aldgate Mosque it is.

Robin Grant is also up and blogging this.

Robin quoting from the BBC:

Mr Whitby, told BBC News: “I saw an Asian guy run onto the train hotly pursued by three plain-clothes police officers.”

“One of them was carrying a black handgun - it looked like an automatic - they pushed him to the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him.”

As Nosemonkey says:

Are you really going to push someone to the floor and shoot them FIVE times if they're a suspected suicide bomber? Fucking risky, wouldn't you say? This is more like execution-style...

I may be well out of step here with what others think but we’d better damn well hope that guy had a bomb on him. Executing someone for being Asian isn’t going to help race relations now is it?

11.25. Sky is now reporting (from a security source) that the man shot at Stockwell had been identified as one of the failed bombers from yesterday (presumably via the CCTV systems).

Reuters website seems to be overloaded.

11.35. The mosque surrounded by police? East London Mosque, not Aldgage as above. Apparently someone phoned in a claim that there was a bomb in the mosque and threatened to blow it. The police were there to evacuate and then search the building. Nothing has been found and that incident is now standing down.

That is the way it should work. All are deserving of equal protection under the law. Don’t let us forget that.

JohnB is less than enamoured of the practice of shooting suspects.

The Guardian has a number of eyewitness reports. Whoever the guy was and whatever he was doing, carrying a bomb or not, I don’t think there can be all that much doubt that he was executed.

Robin:

BBC News 24 have just had an eyewitness on air - Graham Eves(?). It looks like the guy that was shot had previously left a bag on a Victoria line train from Brixton (the one I would have got this morning if I hadn’t been running late), jumped off off the train at Stockwell - his bomb (in a back bag) then failed to explode (more smell smoke etc) once the train had left the train and was on the way to the next stop at Vauxhall - hence the station closure at Vauxhall. The bomber must have then been chased back onto the tube at Stockwell by the police and then shot.

As he says, this is nuts. Shoot to stop someone exploding a bomb? Yes. If you’re sure. Shoot someone, five times, when you’ve captured him? No, I don’t think so.

Yes, I know, this is all confused right now, all still swathed in a fog of ignorance, but I hope they didn’t do what I, unfortunately, think they did. I hope I’m proved wrong.

12.00 Sky again. Their reporter (who’s been pretty good so far) thinks the police had the dead guy under surveillance all the time.

Various speculation that the SAS were involved. No, wouldn’t be surprised.

OK, I don’t think we’re going to hear all that much more today. Who he was, why they shot him, whether he did indeed put a bomb on the tube, whether he was actually wired up...these things’ll come out over the next few days.

Follow Nosemonkey and Robin for further updates.

Update 23/72005. I realise that my pondering about the shooting was somewhat unpopular. From Robin Grant today comes the following links. A brief press release from the police:

A police statement said: "We believe we now know the identity of the man shot at Stockwell Underground station by police, although he is still subject to formal identification.

"We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005.

"For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets."

Wrong guy. Yes, heat of the chase, he should have stopped, the police didn’t know he didn’t have a bomb. Dead, five shots. As above, I’d hoped to be shown to be wrong.

 

July 22, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink

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» London Bombs 2: News, Theories and reaction from perfect.co.uk
Close-up of what appears to be a rucksack bomb on the top deck of the No 26 bus in Hackney. The pack has a Fitness First logo on it and there is a Durcacell battery lying on the seat on... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 12:16:52 PM

» London Bombs 2: News, Theories and reaction from perfect.co.uk
Close-up of what appears to be a rucksack bomb on the top deck of the No 26 bus in Hackney. The pack has a Fitness First logo on it and there is a Durcacell battery lying on the seat on... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 12:19:10 PM

» More Going On In London. from Bloggledygook
Witnesses say, and London Metropolitan Police are confirming, that armed police (most London police are not armed) have shot and killed a man in the Stockwell Underground Station. Sky News is saying that this man had been pursued by police [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 12:23:57 PM

» London Bombs 2: News, Theories and reaction from perfect.co.uk
Close-up of what appears to be a rucksack bomb on the top deck of the No 26 bus in Hackney. The pack has a Fitness First logo on it and there is a Durcacell battery lying on the seat on... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 12:25:51 PM

» NOT AGAIN: SHOOTING IN THE TUBE from Michelle Malkin
BBC reports this morning: A man has been shot dead by armed officers at Stockwell Tube station, as police hunt four would-be bombers. Passenger Mark Whitby told BBC News he had seen a man of Asian appearance shot five times... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 1:30:29 PM

» More Going On In London. from Bloggledygook
Witnesses say, and London Metropolitan Police are confirming, that armed police (most London police are not armed) have shot and killed a man in the Stockwell Underground Station. Sky News is saying that this man had been pursued by police [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 1:53:56 PM

» I Really Really Hope That This Guy Was Wearing A Bomb from The Coalition of the Swilling
Otherwise it'll be a big big mess for the cops. Look, I'm not questioning or second guessing what little we know of the situation; if the guy is going to blow up then you shoot him as rapidly as you... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 2:08:42 PM

» Not A High Priority For Me from Daily Pundit
Tim Worstall: Suspected Bomber on Tube Shot Dead.Are you really going to push someone to the floor and shoot them... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 4:15:49 PM

» Live Blogging in London from A Fistful of Euros
Robin Grant continues to do some great up to the minute live blogging over at perfect.co.uk. He has the just released CCTV photos of the 4 most recent suspects (and suggests that the man shot dead this morning may not... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 4:26:06 PM

» I Really Really Hope That This Guy Was Wearing A Bomb from The Coalition of the Swilling
Otherwise it'll be a big big mess for the cops. Look, I'm not questioning or second guessing what little we know of the situation; if the guy is going to blow up then you shoot him as rapidly as you... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 4:36:20 PM

» I Really Really Hope That This Guy Was Wearing A Bomb from The Coalition of the Swilling
Otherwise it'll be a big big mess for the cops. Look, I'm not questioning or second guessing what little we know of the situation; if the guy is going to blow up then you shoot him as rapidly as you... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 4:39:25 PM

» I Really Really Hope That This Guy Was Wearing A Bomb from The Coalition of the Swilling
Otherwise it'll be a big big mess for the cops. Look, I'm not questioning or second guessing what little we know of the situation; if the guy is going to blow up then you shoot him as rapidly as you... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 4:40:36 PM

» Live Blogging in London from A Fistful of Euros
Robin Grant continues to do some great up to the minute live blogging over at perfect.co.uk. He has the just released CCTV photos of the 4 most recent suspects (and suggests that the man shot dead this morning may not... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 22, 2005 4:41:00 PM

» Live Blogging in London from A Fistful of Euros
Robin Grant continues to do some great up to the minute live blogging over at perfect.co.uk. He has the just released CCTV photos of the 4 most recent suspects (and suggests that the man shot dead this morning may not... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 31, 2005 6:12:48 PM

Comments

Aldgate mosque is also currently being cleared/raided...

Posted by: Rob Read | Jul 22, 2005 11:17:36 AM

On Radio 2, Jeremy Vine, who I don't listen to 'cause it would only wind me up, is presently having his pre-show chat with Ken Bruce and he's said it appears the shot man was "wearing an awful lot of clothes" (it's a scorcher here today) and was being tailed by the police when he w. Maybe the police we're hoping he'd lead them to a Mr Big.

Posted by: Mark Holland | Jul 22, 2005 11:36:45 AM

"Shoot someone, five times, when you’ve captured him? No, I don’t think so."

Maybe if you've captured him but think he might still be able to detonate a bomb ...

But yeah, it does seem strange.

Posted by: Jim | Jul 22, 2005 12:13:12 PM

If there was the faintest possibility that this guy was even capable of blowing himself, and others along with him, into small pieces, I would think that the only justified censure to the man who shot him would be to ask why he didn't use more bullets, just to make certain!
If the British Army hadn't had the stupid, dangerous, silly restrictions on giving warning shouts before firing in Northern Ireland, there would have been a lot less crazies in that province!
No, I don't think it strange at all; and the opinion of one hell of a lot of British people would probably be the same as mine; when I say, "Good on you, my son!"

Posted by: Mike Cunningham | Jul 22, 2005 12:22:59 PM

I am liveblogging it too...

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge | Jul 22, 2005 12:25:04 PM

Neither 'hooray' nor handwringing 'O my God what is happening?' This is a serious situation calling for professional response. The police are trained to deal with these stuations. Trust them.

I'm outside UK trying to read what is happening, and I am dismayed by all the over-emotional comments.

'What if...?' bedamned. The world is watching the Brit cops on TV, and they are very impressive. If their professionalism inflames 'hatred' then its the haters who have the problem!

Posted by: Bruce | Jul 22, 2005 12:43:51 PM

If the British Army hadn't had the stupid, dangerous, silly restrictions on giving warning shouts before firing in Northern Ireland, there would have been a lot less crazies in that province!

It is at least arguable the other way.

I can understand a policy of "shoot suspected suicide bombers multiple times in the head"; I probably even support it if necessary since I am in favour of the "boring police work" solution to the problem of global Islamic terror, and even the dullest of police work has occasional exciting bits where someone gets shot. But I do think that if this is the policy, it ought to be made by primary legislation or at least an official statement by the Home Secretary, not an unnanounced standing order from the Met.

I also don't understand why you would first rugby-tackle someone who you thought needed shooting because he had a suicide bomb. If we're going to adopt the Israeli method of antiterrorism policing, it needs to be carried out by rozzers with proper Israeli-style training.

Posted by: dsquared | Jul 22, 2005 12:46:06 PM

Aren't a lot of people suffering from premature speculation today? "I also don't understand why you would first rugby-tackle someone who you thought needed shooting because he had a suicide bomb" Who knows? Perhaps having tackled him you felt stuff on his body that alarmed you? Perhaps one chap decided on the tackle, another on the shooting? Perhaps you knew you ought to shoot him but wanted to pin him down so that you weren't risking other lives by shooting at a running man? There's a case for wait-and-see.

Posted by: dearieme | Jul 22, 2005 12:52:16 PM

We still need another 15 shots fired.

Posted by: Rob Read | Jul 22, 2005 1:02:40 PM

Radio 4 is saying that police believe the man shot dead was the Oval bomber. He is described as wearing a heavy coat (unusual in summer) and a baseball cap. He was shot in the body, which suggests the police believe he wasn't wearing explosives in his coat.

Posted by: Backword Dave | Jul 22, 2005 1:12:26 PM

For heaven's sake. None of us knows what happened, or what intelligence the Police were working with. We also have to understand that the Police are not sat at their desks with all the time in the world to act. They are in a live situation, with people (including themselves) at risk of a possible suicide attack.

If the decision to is to take out a suicide bomber before the bomb can be fired then the number of shots does not matter. Dead is dead.

The number of bullets is only relevant in so far as a merely wounded man can still use a detonator. Therefore, empty a whole clip in them to make sure.

I would have been extremely pleased to see the suicide bombers of two weeks ago shot before they had chance to let off their bombs.

Lay off the Police, until we know what is happening.

Posted by: eric | Jul 22, 2005 1:14:09 PM

The death penalty remains on the books for high treason and piracy. Even then they are entitled to a trial first. Shooting someone for no better reason than that the world is a better place without them just drags us to their level.

My response to those who don't object to that? "Don't know about you chum, but I'm better than that."

Posted by: Chris harper | Jul 22, 2005 1:20:44 PM

(Cross posted on John Band's site.)
I'm listening to Radio 4 (balanced or hysterical, depending on your PoV). It seems the police (SAS?) shot the suspect 5 or 6 times in the body, possibly with an automatic weapon.

These are my thoughts at the moment. Given the Bourgass thing, taking suspects alive may be very dangerous for officers (and civilians in the station), so shooting to kill may be justified. They may have shot in the body to preserve the head as he seems to have been ID'd by CCTV. Save him for questioning? Perhaps not. If he's a suicide bomber what does he need to know exactly? Where to get explosives, ricin, whatever. But that could be from the boot of a car in a given location. He doesn't need to know the real identities of his controllers. He's expendable (to them).

I should say that I have a friend who is an ex armed-policeman-on-duty-in-London, and I'm prepared to give them more benefit of the doubt because of that.

Posted by: Backword Dave | Jul 22, 2005 1:33:13 PM

I rather doubt that the suspect was shot for 'no better reason than that the world is a better place without them'.
If the suspect had, in fact, been positively identified as the Oval bomber, then the cops would have to assume that he was armed and dangerous. He ran into the Stockwell station, jumped over the ticket barrier, and
If you were the police, what would you do? You've seen two attacks on the tube in the last two weeks, you're chasing the suspect in an attack that occurred less than 24 hours ago, and he's boarding a train. If you do nothing and he explodes a device on the carriage, you have

I think it's important to note that he was not shot until the moment he actually boarded the train. They didn't take decisive action until the last possible moment.

As more details emerge, we'll be able to better understand it...but given the facts on hand, it seems like a better alternative than seeing a dozen St John Ambulances crowd around the entrance to take out bomb blast victims.

Posted by: Eric S (Washington DC) | Jul 22, 2005 1:53:01 PM

It seems the armchair critics are already out in force. Happy to judge immediately without established facts but mere hearsay. So Im with Dearime and Eric on this.

Surly the number of bullets is hardly relevant, apart from schlock horror reporting. It's only relevant as far as the number needed to definately incapacitate someone who is an immediate lethal danger to yourself and the public around you. Death is a likely side affect but that is not the immediate concern, but preserving both yours and the public's safety.

Posted by: dmick | Jul 22, 2005 2:02:23 PM

I can't believe that anyone is giving the police stick over this. All a suicide bomber has to do is make a split second movement - put his hand in his pocket, his coat, or even just close his hand and he kills everyone round about him. Why take the chance?

Posted by: Martin Adamson | Jul 22, 2005 2:13:43 PM

As he says, this is nuts. Shoot to stop someone exploding a bomb? Yes. If you’re sure. Shoot someone, five times, when you’ve captured him? No, I don’t think so.

I think it bears pointing out that, assuming this fellow was indeed a suicide bomber one does not 'capture' him until you have made sure he cannot explode his vest; sitting on top of him merely makes you his first victim. There simply is not time to wait and judge the effects of each shot. I certainly doubt I would have the courage to run up to the fellow and put some rounds in him; I would probably shoot from as far away as possible and hit innocent bystanders in the process.

But we simply don't know enough at this point.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley | Jul 22, 2005 2:21:49 PM

Put yourself into the shoes of the of the guy with the gun. For each bullet after the first, there are two possibilites:

1. you are kneeling on top of a probably fatally wounded potential suicide bomber.

2. you are kneeling on top of a corpse.

Either you don't shoot at all, or you keep shooting until you are damn sure situation 2 applies.

soru

Posted by: soru | Jul 22, 2005 2:27:36 PM

Good afternoon from across the Pond.

It is morning here, and I’m seeing a lot of armchair commentary from what I’m sure are nice people, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to add my commentary as someone who grew up within a gun culture.

The suspect in this case was being chased because he was recognized as being one of the bombers from yesterday’s attack. He was spotted while wearing a heavy coat, consistent with the M.O. of terrorists for covering a bomb belt or vest. Police must operate on the assumption he is armed with a bomb in this situation, because to be wrong is to risk a huge loss of life, as you found out firsthand just two weeks ago.

Based upon reports from 7/7 and yesterday, the bombers are known to be using an explosive called triacetone triperoxide, or TATP. It is a shock-sensitive explosive with the power of RDX used in military plastic explosives, but far less stable.

From early reports, we can see that the suspect went down for whatever reason (most reports say that he tripped), at which point several officers piled onto him, and one fired five shots into his head.

I do not think all of you realize what really went on here if this scenario is indeed what happened, so I’ll try to explain.

The police piled upon this man for two reasons. The first was to try to immobilize him to keep him from setting of the bomb they had every reason to suspect he had. The second, and most selfless reason was to try to shield commuters from the blast with their bodies if the suspect was indeed able to set off a bomb. These brave officers dove upon a human bomb to save their fellow Britons. Whether he actually had a bomb belt is irrelevant.

“No greater love,” indeed.

The fact that the bomb was likely made of TATP is why the officer used head shots instead of shots to the body. A bullet hitting the suicide vest would have detonated it, just like a bullet to a stick of dynamite sets off explosions in old western movies.

The reason for the number of shots was to disrupt the nervous system as quickly as possible. Most likely one or two shots would have been able to do the job, but the officer in this situation does not have the time to fire, coldly access the quality of his shot, and then require the target to fire again. He had to put as many bullets into the suspect as needed to terminally interrupt his central nervous system, as quickly as possible. As the officer was armed with a semi-automatic pistol, all five shots were likely discharged with 2-3 seconds, until he perceived that the target was no longer a threat.

Hopefully, this added something to the conversation. Thank you for your time.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee | Jul 22, 2005 2:41:05 PM

Thanks very much. Just one point; unless further information turns up, it appears this guy had a rucksack, not a vest. The current crop of UK suicide bombers don't seem to have Palestinian-style vests.

Posted by: dsquared | Jul 22, 2005 2:45:02 PM

I think it's a sign of just how liberal crap indoctrinated we have become that we even worry that someone who ran away from armed police and onto a tube, especially during heightened terrorist activity, got popped.

Whoever the taosted guy was, the Police have improved Londons gene pool today.

Congratulations!

Posted by: Rob Read | Jul 22, 2005 3:18:03 PM

As we say here in the USA: Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

Posted by: Brainster | Jul 22, 2005 3:55:51 PM

Let's not jump to conclusions, Tim.

Other news: Tube drivers are threatening they may refuse to work if things don't improve. I honestly don't blame them, actually.

Posted by: Johnathan | Jul 22, 2005 4:24:55 PM

As I note here, it's instructive to see that the Muslim Council of Britain's spokesman's first reaction was to claim that Muslims are worried a 'shoot-to-kill' policy is in operation. It obviously escaped his attention exactly why people of Asian appearance who act in a suspicious fashion on the London Underground are more likely to get shot.

Posted by: David Gillies | Jul 22, 2005 4:26:01 PM

I don't think they mean a "shoot to kill " policy - the cops always shoot to kill.
What they mean is a "shoot on sight" policy. The confusion between the two terms has pissed me off since before the Stalker enquiry in NI all those years ago....

Posted by: JonT | Jul 22, 2005 4:45:15 PM