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Littlehampton gunshot man “angry about debts”
11:00am Saturday 1st October 2011
An electrician shot himself dead in a stand-off with police because he was angry about money he was owed, officers believe.
The 63-year-old, named by neighbours as Brian Palmer, was said to be angry about a debt from his business dealings when he began wielding a shotgun early yesterday morning.
He fired three shots as unarmed police tried to talk him down from a garage roof and died from a headwound in hospital in the afternoon.
Sussex Police are investigating whether he shot himself more than once but refused to confirm his identity or how many injuries he had until a post-mortem had taken place today.
They said the gun he used was licensed.
Officers were called to the house in Horsham Road, Littlehampton, at about 6.40am.
Neighbours said Mr Palmer’s wife, Jenny, had fled to the house next door after the couple had argued.
Police confirmed they were called to a “domestic assault” and sent officers to the house. They did not know the man they were looking for was armed.
When they arrived Mr Palmer climbed onto the roof of his home’s garage with a shotgun.
The officers called for a firearms team but as they tried to calm the gunman down he fired three shots, each spaced several seconds apart.
Firearms units heard the shots as they arrived at the scene at about 7.25am.
They found him on the roof of the garage, with a headwound.
An air ambulance landed in Horsham Road and took Palmer to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
He was pronounced dead at 10.30am.
Police forensics workers found shotgun cartridges at the scene. No shots are believed to have been fired at police.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick May, of the Surrey and Sussex major crime team, said: “It was very unclear what his motives were and why this had happened.
“We understand that he was owed some money. His wife said things appeared to be getting too much for him.
“We are fully investigating the tragic death of this man and our condolences go to his family. We are not seeking anyone else in connection with his death.”
Jamie Bray, 18, of Horsham Road, said she was woken by the first gunshot, believing it was the sound of a car accident.
When she went outside she said a policeman told her: “There’s a gunman shooting at people.”
She said: “That was terrifying.”
Miss Bray said she could see the shed from her window. She believed Mr Palmer also had a leg injury.
Mr Palmer was well known to people living in the area, doing odd jobs for them as an electrician and parking his cars on their drives.
He is understood to have run a sub-post office in Rustington some years ago.
Neighbours said they believed Mr Palmer had become depressed recently and was on medication. He had spoken of retiring in 18 months’ time.
Police said his wife was with relatives yesterday.
Neighbour Ken Bigg said: “He was a nice guy. He was always very friendly and helpful.
“He was very pleasant, always good for a chat.”
Sussex Police notifed the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) because the force had been involved in the lead-up to his death.
An IPCC spokeswoman said: “The matter was referred to us but following an assessment of the information available at this stage the IPCC has decided that Sussex Police can continue the investigation at a local level.”