Police shoot man five times in the head
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Five shots in head bring bloody end to station chase
IT was like a scene from a gangster film - plainclothes police officers chasing a suspect through a crowded London Tube station, pinning him down and shooting him five times in the head.
But the scene yesterday was very real – the kind of terrifying situation London might have dreaded.
Distraught eyewitnesses described the mayhem at Stockwell Underground station.
People hammered on train doors and screamed to get out, while crowds in the station ran in all directions, protecting their heads, to get away from the chaos.
Witness Mark Whitby said he was sitting on the stationary train reading a paper when he heard people shouting, "Get down, get down." Then a man of Asian appearance ran on to the train, hotly pursued by plainclothes officers.
Mr Whitby said: "As the man got on the train I looked at his face. He looked from left to right, but he basically looked like a cornered rabbit. He looked absolutely petrified.
"He sort of tripped but they were hotly pursuing him and couldn't have been more than two or three feet behind him.
"The policeman nearest to me had the black automatic pistol in his left hand, he held it down to the guy and unloaded five shots into him."
The man was shot in the head, is thought by police to have been an accomplice of the bombers.
As Mr Whitby was helping an elderly woman off the train, another 10 to 15 police officers with pistols and sub-machine guns ran up.
When he got up to the ticket hall, he was offered counselling by police and Underground staff.
"I'm totally distraught," he added. "It was no more than five yards away from where I was sitting as I saw it with my own eyes.
"The other passengers were distraught. I've never seen people move so fast in all my life. Absolute mayhem – people running in all directions, looks of horror on their faces, screaming.
"Lots of people sort of crouched down, trying to run but in a crouched position, me included. Trying to protect their heads, worried about flying bullets.
"It was a very, distressing sight to watch, and to hear as well."
Mr Whitby said the man
was quite large, wearing a baseball cap and a thick coat, which looked out of place in the warm weather.
Journalist Chris Martin said he was waiting on the northbound Northern line platform at Stockwell station when a train pulled in and several men burst on to the platform about 20 yards from him.
"There was a lot of shouting, I thought it was football fans or something," he said. "There was obviously some sort of altercation going on, and then they came flying on to the platform and these guys just threw this man into the open doors of the train. Then I heard shots.
"It sounded like a silencer gun going off, and then there was blind panic, with people shouting and screaming and just running away.
Another passenger, Georgia Law, said a wave of panic swept through the station as people banged on the doors of the train to get out.
"I heard all these popping sounds, it sounded like gunshots, but quite quiet ones", she said.
"I could hear shouting, 'Get down' and people going 'Run, run'.
"I thought there was just someone shooting randomly so I lay on the floor of the carriage and then I decided to get up and have a look out.
"I could see someone lying on the floor and police all standing around. But it was all quite panicky so I then ran up the platform and out of the Tube."
Another passenger, Rob Lowe, 33, who was in the carriage when armed officers shot the man dead, said police were lying in wait for the man as he boarded the Underground train at Stockwell station.
Mr Lowe, from Balham, south London, said: "The Tube was stationary and then a man came on who I presume now to be a plainclothes policeman, but at the time I didn't know who he was.
"He was looking quite shifty, getting up and sitting back down again. I felt a bit awkward around him. And then he seemed to shout at some people on the other platform who then all came rushing.
"The Tube suddenly filled up with loads of people running down to the end of my carriage.
"Then I heard probably four or five loud bangs and saw a bit of smoke.
"More armed policemen appeared, telling us all to get out of the Tube and people started running off.
"It did look like there was somebody on the floor at the end, but then there was a lot of people around him and then I heard the bangs.
"It took a few seconds to sink in. I didn't really react immediately to it. I stood around for a bit until I was told to go."
An eerie calm descended later on Stockwell, which was still closed to traffic in a wide area surrounding the station.
Scaffolding was erected around the entrance while at least 20 police officers guarded the scene.
Many local people stood at the edge of the police cordon unable to reach their homes and the streets remained deserted of moving vehicles at one of the busiest junctions in south London.
23 July 2005