Man planning ‘revenge’ attacks built armoury at Somerset home, court told

A warehouse worker obsessed with mass killings built up an armoury including a submachine gun and bombs at his “quiet” Somerset home as he plotted to carry out “revenge” attacks at his old primary school, a police headquarters and his workplace, a jury has heard.

Reed Wischhusen’s targets included former classmates whom he believed had bullied him, work colleagues who laughed at him, and Avon and Somerset police officers after the force refused him a firearms licence, the court was told.

Wischhusen, 32, had allegedly converted a blank pistol into one capable of firing live rounds, had a viable 19th-century rifle and was making a submachine gun at the house he shared with his father in the village of Wick St Lawrence, near Weston-super-Mare.

According to the prosecution, he planned to stockpile 1,000 rounds of ammunition and a rocket launcher and also had material to make improvised explosive devices, silencers, a full police uniform, bulletproof vests and handcuffs.

He was caught after a tipoff, Bristol crown court heard. Police, including two armed officers, went to his house and shot him when he came downstairs pointing a pistol at them. He survived and spent four months in hospital before being arrested.

Jonathan Rees KC, prosecuting, said the house Wischhusen shared with his father and the outbuilding behind it seemed quiet but “contained a dark secret”.

He told the jury that Wischhusen had “a macabre interest” in infamous killers such as Thomas Hamilton, who carried out the Dunblane shootings, and Raoul Moat, who was behind shootings in Northumberland.

Rees said Wischhusen was fascinated by mass shootings and bombings such as the Columbine high school attack and the Oklahoma bombing and set about building – in his own words – a “small armoury” of firearms and explosives.

The prosecutor said that Wischhusen, in a document setting out his plans, wrote: “Revenge is on my mind, it’s a powerful motivator.”

Wischhusen wrote that his targets included a boy who had pinned him against a wall “for no reason” at primary school. He named another old schoolmate and said: “Soon he’ll be dead.” He identified a teacher he said had bullied him and made fun of him.

“I believe school is controlling everything I do,” he wrote.

When he was interviewed by police, Wischhusen claimed his alleged plan was a “fantasy story” to “amuse myself”. He said he ran at officers with the gun because he hoped they would kill him and did not want to shoot anyone, the court heard.

The court also heard that Wischhusen had an image on his phone of himself wearing a police uniform and carrying a gun. He claimed he bought the uniform online to “get back” at Avon and Somerset police after his application to become a volunteer officer in 2011 was rejected.

Jurors heard phase one of Wischhusen’s alleged revenge plan was a “hitman-style attack” to kill 10 people using a converted pistol with a silencer, while wearing disguised clothing and a wig. Wischhusen planned to spare two police staff so they would feel “survivor’s guilt”. This was, he wrote, “ultimate mind control”.

Phase two would involve going to his old school in Somerset to shoot and kill teachers and throw pipebombs “to stir things up”, the court was told.

The alleged plan would culminate in an attack on Avon and Somerset police’s headquarters, where he would either plant and detonate pressure cooker bombs before opening fire on staff with submachine guns, or ambush officers and enter the building to let off explosives, the prosecutor claimed. After this he planned to kill himself, the court heard. The last line of the document was: “It has to happen.”

In another document he described work colleagues laughing at him for visiting a sex worker in Poland and said he planned to carry out a shooting there.

Rees said Wischhusen took “real, concrete steps” to make or collect weapons and that his plans were “no fantasy at all”.

When police went to his house in November 2022, he asked if he could go to the bathroom. They heard a shot and then saw him coming downstairs brandishing a handgun. They opened fire on him, believing their lives were in danger, the court heard.

Wischhusen denies having an explosive substance with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property or enable another to do so, having an explosive substance, possessing a converted Turkish Retay T205 pistol, possessing ammunition with intent to endanger life and possessing a Schmidt-Rubin model 1889 bolt-action rifle without holding a firearm certificate.

The trial continues.