Plymouth: Anger as video of dead body shared online after 'unspeakably grim' mass shooting

·6-min read
A mass shooting has left six people dead, including the gunman who has been named locally as Jake Davison. (Getty)
A mass shooting has left six people dead, including the gunman who has been named locally as Jake Davison. (Getty)

People who shared videos and images of the shooting in Plymouth have been criticised for helping rumours "spread like wildfire" and have been urged to show respect for the relatives of the victims.

People have been urged not to share images or clips of the victims of the shooting carried out in Plymouth by Jake Davison, 22, after at least one video reportedly showing a dead body appeared online soon after the attack.

Six people died of gunshot wounds in the incident in Plymouth on Thursday night, with three-year-old Sophie Martyn and Davison's mother 51-year-old Maxine Davison among those killed.

The other victims were Sophie's father Lee Martyn, 43; Stephen Washington, 59 and Kate Shepherd, 66, police confirmed on Friday.

A 53-year-old woman and a 33-year-old man are being treated in hospital after being shot at by Davison.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the gunman Davison shot himself with a pump-action shotgun after the attack.

Watch: Six killed in mass shooting in Plymouth

Video footage of at least one dead body was shared on Twitter shortly after the shooting. 

There was also speculation as to the identity of the shooter before it was confirmed by the police, details of the response and the age of one of the victims in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

PlymouthLive, a local news site, condemned the rumours it said were "spreading like wildfire" and urged people in the area not to share such information out of respect to the families of those killed. It described the incident as "a truly devastating night for our city".

PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 13: Police at the the scene on Biddick Drive following a shooting in Keyham yesterday evening on August 13, 2021 in Plymouth, England. Police were called to a serious firearms incident in the Keyham area of Plymouth earlier this evening where there have been a number of fatalities at the scene and several other casualties are receiving treatment. A critical incident has been declared. The area has been cordoned off and police believe the situation is now contained. The shooter involved has been shot dead.(Photo by William Dax/Getty Images)
Five people were killed in the shooting in Keyham, Plymouth. (Getty)

As the city reeled from the aftermath of the shooting, police and authorities urged people not to share images and videos online and to respect those families who have lost loved ones.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said: "One of the biggest things the police have been doing throughout the night is contacting the families of the victims this morning from such a tragedy, making sure the families are first to know."

She said the community had been left "absolutely devastated" and in "absolute shock", and urged people not to share videos of the incident.

"I've even been shared some of those videos and footage. Plymouth is a very tight-knit community, it's a very strong community. Everyone who's local there will know what's happened and will know what's gone on."

PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Emergency services responds to the scene following a shooting in Keyham on August 12, 2021 in Plymouth, England. Police report six fatalities with several other casualties receiving treatment. The alleged shooter was shot dead. (Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images)
Police have said the incident was not terror-related. (Getty)

She added: "I think what we would really like people to do is not be sharing those images this morning.

"Hold on to them, there will be more requests from the police later if required, but please don't share them. 

"It's absolutely tragic, if you can imagine that you lost a family member in the street, unexpectedly in such a horrific way, we really do need to manage what’s going on in terms of lives and loss."

peaking at a press conference outside Crownhill police station in Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said: “An event like this touches all communities, all people, no matter where you are in the world.

“And the events I will tell you about are particularly traumatic.”

He said there were a “considerable” number of phone calls to emergency services and that police arrived at the scene within six minutes.

Sawyer said police believe the first female victim and Davison were “known” to each other, and said there was a view there was a familial relationship.

He said he did not yet know of any formal relationship between Davison and the other victims.

He added: “We believe we have an incident that is domestically related, that has spilled into the street and seen several people in Plymouth losing their lives in an extraordinarily tragic circumstances.”

Johnny Mercer, the MP for Plymouth Moor View, said he was sure there would be “action” taken against people who shared images of the shooting on social media.

PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 12: Police at the the scene on Biddick Drive following a shooting in Keyham on August 12, 2021 in Plymouth, England. Police were called to a serious firearms incident in the Keyham area of Plymouth earlier this evening where there have been a number of fatalities at the scene and several other casualties are receiving treatment. A critical incident has been declared. The area has been cordoned off and police believe the situation is now contained. The shooter involved has been shot dead.(Photo by William Dax/Getty Images)
Police were called to the Keyham area of Plymouth on Thursday night following a shooting. (Getty)

When asked what kind of follow-up action, he said: “I think they have clearly been asked not to.

“I am not sure what the legal ramifications are but it’s certainly something that I will help the police and do whatever we can to make sure that that sort of behaviour is held to account."

Plymouth MP Luke Pollard made the same plea, writing on Twitter: "Please can I ask that you think of the families and our community and not share any images or videos of any of the victims."

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A police investigator carries an evidence bag in Royal Navy Avenue in the Keyham area of Plymouth where six people, including the offender, died of gunshot wounds in a firearms incident Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday August 13, 2021.
The local police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez said the community had been left devastated by the incident. (PA)

He told Times Radio on Friday: "This is an unspeakably grim time for this community.

"What we could do with is the support of our friends around the country at this time, treating the victims and their families with as much respect as possible and not sharing images on social media."

He added: "This is an incredibly dark day for our community but the Keyham community is strong – it is a community that has heart in abundance.

"Today is the day we need to come together as a community."

Witnesses described hearing gunshots with one saying she saw a man “randomly” start shooting at people.

One witness, who lives near Biddick Drive and gave her name as Sharron, told the BBC: “Firstly, there was shouting, followed by gunshots – three, possibly four to begin with.

“This was when the shooter kicked in the door of a house and randomly started shooting… he ran from the house shooting as he ran and proceeded to shoot at a few people in the Linear Park up from the drive.”

Robert Pinkerton told the BBC he had “walked around the corner” and “bumped into a bloke with a shotgun”.

Police, who have confirmed the incident was not terror-related, said next of kin have been informed and it is not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

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