Lured into a lethal trap: Two policewomen aged 23 and 32 answered a routine burglary call… and walked unarmed into a hail of bullets and a grenade blast
- Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, shot dead in Greater Manchester
- Officers were attacked with a grenade while attending report of a burglary
- Dale Cregan, 29, walked into a police station afterwards and was arrested
- Cregan was bailed in June for the murder of Mark Short
- He was also wanted for the murder of Mark’s father David
- PM Cameron: Killings are ‘shocking reminder of the debt we owe to police’
- Police: ‘A long and dark shadow has been cast across Greater Manchester’
- Guard of honour formed as Pc Bone’s body left scene in ambulance
For the two unarmed policewomen it was a routine call to a suspected burglary.
But, half an hour later, Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, were gunned down in an act of ‘despicable evil’.
The story of the break-in was apparently a fabrication and lying in wait was a killer.
Tragic: Police officers Pc Fiona Bone (left), 32, and Pc NIcola Hughes (right), 23, were shot dead on a routine call
Suspect: Police released this photo of Dale Cregan who was wanted in connection with the killings of a father and son
He cut the constables down in a hail of bullets before tossing a grenade at them.
Miss Bone, who was engaged to marry, died at the scene and rookie Miss Hughes a short time later from catastrophic injuries.
They are the first woman police officers to be killed together on duty.
Shortly after the shootings, Dale Cregan – wanted over a double killing – went to a police station and was arrested on suspicion of murder.
The chief constable of Greater Manchester Police could not contain his fury about the loss of two of his officers.
‘This is one of the darkest days in the history of the Greater Manchester Police if not for the police service overall, because we have lost two deeply loved and valued colleagues,’ said Sir Peter Fahy at a sombre press conference.
‘It would appear the killer has deliberately done this in an act of cold-blooded murder.’
Ian Hanson of the city’s Police Federation called the deaths ‘the slaughter of the innocents’.
And David Cameron said the killings were ‘a shocking reminder of the debt we owe to those who put themselves in danger to keep us safe and secure – what we have seen is the absolutely despicable act of pure evil’.
Last night, details emerged about 29-year-old Cregan’s background and the countdown to yesterday’s horror.
Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes were killed while attending an incident in Hattersley, Greater Manchester
- Cregan had previously been arrested on suspicion of murdering a gangland rival in May
- He was released on police bail pending further inquiries regarding the death of Mark Short
- While on the run last month he allegedly murdered the dead man’s father David
- Police spent £150,000 a day trying to solve the case
- Local residents had recently seen Cregan drinking in pubs
- Vile tweets praising the police murders have been posted
Last night colleagues issued statements, paying tribute to the fallen officers.
Miss Bone’s colleagues said she ‘had a great sense of humour, always enjoying a good laugh’.
‘She was an excellent bobby and cared about her job and the community she served,’ they added.
Tears: Poilce officers gather at the scene where the two policewomen were killed in Hattersley
Tribute: Flowers were brought by the public to the scene of the shooting in Hattersley, Greater Manchester
Aftermath: A bomb disposal team prepares to carry out a controlled explosion with a remote-controlled robot
Follow-up probe: Armed police gather on the estate in after two of their colleagues were killed
But such was the ferocity of the attack, the two officers, who were wearing standard issue body armour, stood no chance.
Sir Peter said the killer emerged from inside or near the property armed with a gun and a grenade.
The killer is thought to have shot Miss Bone in the head at point blank range before spraying bullets at her colleague, who fell to the ground.
The gunman then threw a grenade which exploded sending shrapnel flying across the front of the house.
Joining forces: Police liaise with a member of a bomb squad at the scene. It is understood that a grenade may have been used during the incident in which the two officers were killed
Convoy: Police vehicles and ambulances line the street close to where two unarmed officers were shot dead
Devastating: An emergency services worker bows his head (left) as he arrives on the estate with colleagues
Bringing aid: Emergency service workers carry bags and equipment to the scene of the killings
Moments later he was seen calmly walking down the street, carrying a rucksack.
The suspect is then believed to have jumped into a BMW, which was waiting nearby, and whisked off by a female driver.
Panicked residents immediately called emergency services and paramedics battled to save Miss Hughes, who had suffered catastrophic injuries.
They could be seen given heart compression as she lay on the ground before she was rushed to Tameside Hospital where doctors fought to stabilise her.
Shut off: An armoured vehicle blocks the road as the investigation into the shootings gets under way
But her injuries were so bad she was pronounced dead a short time later.
Warren Shepherd, who was on his window cleaner rounds in Hattersley, said: ‘I just heard gun shots, bang, bang, bang – around ten of them, then a pause and a big explosion.
‘I went around the back of the houses to see what happened and there was a police car that looked empty.
‘There was people, neighbours stood around there and one of my customers said, ‘They’ve been shot! The police officers have been shot!’
Separate incidents: Cregan was wanted over the deaths of David Short (left) and his son Mark (right)
Killing: Mark Short, 23, was shot dead in the Cotton Tree Inn pub in Droylsden, in May
Protection: Police who carried out a separate raid last month in connection with the killings were armed, but the women officers shot in the Tameside incident were unarmed
Sir Peter Fahy said it was routine to send unarmed officers to a burglary call.
‘We believe the suspect was in a house in Abbey Gardens overnight, and at some point this morning has either himself made a call or had somebody else make a call reporting a burglary,’ Sir Peter said.
‘This particular address was not known to us. So as would be routine, two unarmed officers were sent to the scene.
‘When they arrived, it appears that the suspect emerged into the road and killed these two officers. A firearm was used, a grenade was also used.. These were two officers going about their normal duty. Like all officers they went to a variety of incidents not knowing what it was they would face.’
Sir Peter said he believed the suspect had been “protected by a criminal conspiracy to harbour him”, adding that the force was “fully determined” to investigate that conspiracy and bring those involved “to book”.
Two people from the house in Hattersley, a man and a woman, were helping police with inquiries.
The outrage prompted renewed calls for the routine arming of police.
But Sir Peter said his force believed “passionately” that police should remain unarmed, despite the tragedy.
Cregan had been the subject of a huge manhunt after the murders of David Short, 46, and his son Mark, 23. A £50,000 reward had been offered for information about the case.
David Short was killed at his home in Clayton, Manchester, on August 10, while his son Mark was gunned down at the Cotton Tree pub in nearby Droylsden, on May 25.
Last night a cordon was in place on Clarendon Road around Hyde Police Station, two miles from Hattersley, where Cregan handed himself in to police.
A controlled explosion is believed to have been carried out on a car parked outside the police station according to locals, who reported hearing a loud bang and spotted a plume of smoke.