There has been a heartfelt plea for change as hundreds gathered in Plymouth to pay their respects to the five people killed in one of the UK’s worst mass shootings.
Civic leaders, religious figures, politicians, emergency service workers, and the military joined around 200 people outside the Guildhall in Plymouth city centre to hold a one minute’s silence.
They gathered to mourn and reflect on last week’s devastating events when gunman Jake Davison, 22, launched his murderous spree in the Keyham area of the city.
Davison shot his 51-year-old mother Maxine Davison, also known as Maxine Chapman, at a house in Biddick Drive before he went into the street and shot dead Sophie Martyn, aged three, and her father, Lee Martyn, 43.
In the 12-minute attack, Davison then killed Stephen Washington, 59, in a nearby park before shooting 66-year-old Kate Shepherd, who later died at Derriford Hospital.
Addressing the mourners outside the Guildhall, Keyham community leader Kevin Sproston said: “The solidarity, love, and support shown by Plymouth and the UK towards Keyham has been overwhelming and we thank you for all your kind messages, it means a lot.
“At the moment Keyham is grieving. We grieve because we love and grief is love. We are in shock, feel guilty, and angry about the events surrounding the deaths of our beloved community members because we love.
“It is that love and energy that we can now use to being about change. As a community we will look to restore and rebuild together.
“Collectively we will support each other and help bring back a community we want our children to inherit.”
Sproston, who is chair of the local neighbourhood watch scheme in Keyham, asked for the community to be left alone to grieve.
“With grief in mind I would like to take this time of reflection to also ask that the residents of Keyham are left in grieve privately within their own homes,” he said.
“I ask the national press not to knock on the doors of families in our community and please give the opportunity to those in shock to grieve and process these events.
“Lastly I would like to thank on behalf of the Keyham community the emergency services for their bravery and quick responses to helping those in Keyham.
“Your efforts are heroic, and many residents want me to pass on their deepest and heartfelt thanks.
“While speaking about heroic people I want personally thank the young adults, teenagers, and youth of Keyham who have kept our vigil clean and who unprompted came to the park early to help the neighbourhood watch set up the vigil for the community.
“Also, the two young boys whose brave actions on the day of the shootings saved lives. Your actions and bravery have been a constant source of inspiration to myself and others and I thank you so much.
“It is important to the community that the families affected, and these young adults and children are cared for now and in the future.
“To the people of Plymouth, you have shown your support and in some of Keyham’s darkest days you have reminded us that we are not alone and there really is Plymouth together.
“It’s solidarity as a city is what makes us great and although it is two simple words the meaning means so much to us right now.
“Plymouth together, thank you.”
Among those who had gathered outside the Guildhall were relatives of some of those who had died in last week’s shooting.
Joining them was Shaun Sawyer, chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez, and Plymouth MP Luke Pollard.
Mourners were welcomed by Councillor Terri Beer, the lord mayor of Plymouth.
They all felt silent as five gongs, to represent each of the victims, were sounded and everyone paused for the minute’s silence.
A further five gongs were then sounded.
In Keyham people gathered in North Down Crescent park, the scene of Friday’s night vigil, to hold their own tribute.
Meanwhile, the government has announced firearms applicants will be subject of social media checks.
Questions are continuing to mount over how Davison, who took his own life after the shooting spree, was able to obtain a firearms licence.
All police forces in England and Wales are being asked to review their current firearm application processes, as well as assess whether they need to revisit any existing licences.
Social media usage by Davison suggested an obsession with “incel” culture, meaning “involuntary celibate,” as well as an interest in guns and the United States.
An investigation is already under way by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into Davison’s possession of a shotgun and a firearms licence.
It will look at why Devon and Cornwall Police returned Davison’s gun and firearms permit to him last month, after it was removed following an allegation of assault in September last year.
By Rod Minchin