Man shot by police ‘wanted to go out in blaze of glory’

The father of a man who was shot by a police firearms officer while he was holding an air weapon said his son wanted to go out in a “blaze of glory” and be killed by a marksman, an inquest heard.

Armed officers had shouted for James Carlo Wilson, 24, to put down the gun he was carrying before they fired first a plastic bullet then, five seconds later, a round from a rifle which hit him in the chest.

Outlining the case to the jury, Newcastle Coroner Karen Dilks said an air pistol was recovered from the scene, outside his former partner’s home, in Frenchman’s Way, South Shields, South Tyneside.

Mr Wilson died in hospital on April 1 2016, three days after he was shot.

In a statement read out at the inquest, his father Carl Wilson said: “I think he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. That’s why he did it the way he did.

“I think he wanted the police to kill him and he used the police to commit suicide.”

Mr Wilson and his close friend Sean McLellan had shared 48 bottles of beer on the Bank Holiday Easter Monday, with the shooting happening in the early hours of the next day.

At 12.57am Northumbria Police received an anonymous call from someone, naming James Wilson as having a black 9mm gun and that he was in Frenchman’s Way.

The three-week inquest at the Mansion House heard a traffic officer was sent to drive past the address in an unmarked car and he saw someone holding a black object.

South Shields shooting
Mr Wilson was hit by a rubber bullet before a round from a rifle (Tom Wilkinson/PA)

At 1.15am there was a second call from the same number, and Mrs Dilks said: “The caller, among other threats, said he would not put the gun down, he didn’t care if anyone got hurt and he was going to shoot the officers who attended.”

Armed officers drove to the scene and parked around 30 metres away from Mr Wilson, with its in-car video camera showing him pointing his weapon “several times” towards the officers, the coroner said.

He did not put the gun down when he was told to, Mrs Dilks said, and he was shot with an “attenuated energy projectile” – a plastic bullet – before he was hit by the rifle round fired by another officer.

Police attempted to carry out first aid at the scene and he was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary where he died.

Mr Wilson was outside the home of his ex-partner Kayleigh Reay and she told the inquest they split up as he had been self-harming.

The jury heard there had been a previous cliff-top incident where he had to be saved by police.

She told the inquest she heard Mr Wilson laugh when he was shot the first time and when she looked outside following the second bang she saw him lying on the ground.

Mrs Dilks said the jury may consider, among other issues, whether Mr Wilson provoked the police “with a view to officers ending his life”.

Mr Wilson lived in South Shields with his mother Tracy Todd who told the inquest she had never known her son to have a BB gun.

She said: “James is not the type of person to have a firearm.”

His friend Mr McLellan strongly disputed the theory Mr Wilson wanted to go out in a “blaze for glory”, adding that he hated his father and had rarely seen him.

Mr McLellan said: “James worshipped Kayleigh, all he wanted was a family with (her).

“There was a time up the cliffs when he was not in the right frame of mind.

“He never wanted to take his own life, never.”

The inquest continues.