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Photo Credit: Dominic Lipinski/ PA Wire/ PA Images
Photo Credit: Dominic Lipinski/ PA Wire/ PA Images
Photo Credit: Dominic Lipinski/ PA Wire/ PA Images
Photo Credit: Dominic Lipinski/ PA Wire/ PA Images
UK News

Croydon priest responds with prayer and support as community mourns police officer

by Press Association

A priest in Croydon has joined those paying tribute to Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matiu Ratana who was shot dead by a handcuffed suspect at a south London custody suite.

Known as Matt to his family and friends, 54-year-old Sgt Ratana, who was originally from New Zealand, joined the force in 1991.

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Sgt Matiu Ratana, known as Matt, who died after being shot at a police station in Croydon, south London.

Sgt Ratana died in hospital after the gunman, who was being detained for possession of ammunition and class B drugs, opened fire at Croydon custody centre in south London during the early hours of Friday.

The 23-year-old murder suspect, who is believed to have shot himself, is in a critical condition in hospital.

Rev Catherine Tucker, who went down to the centre to see if anyone needed prayer or support, said: "The action taken against the police is really unacceptable but I also feel sorry for the perpetrator.

"Sadly, I am not surprised there has been a shooting in Croydon."

Rev Tucker, who is of the Holy Church Croydon parish, which includes the centre in its catchment area, described the region as having a diverse community who live in a highly-deprived setting.

She said: "There are tensions between the police and young people particularly in relation to stop and search and the way the police relate to the community."

Photo Credit: Dominic Lipinski/ PA Wire/ PA Images


Community police officer Jacqueline Kufuor burst into tears after laying flowers outside the centre in tribute to her colleague.

She told the PA news agency that the deceased officer was "a lovely guy" and "the nicest man I have ever met".

She said: "You never expect this to happen when you go to work. For him to have been in custody and for this to have happened, it is just so sad."

She said: "He was a very lovely man. He was such a nice man. When he sees you, he would just stand and talk to you. He would ask you about your job and how your are coping and how you are doing out there.

"So when I ever had issues, I would just talk to him."

The suspect was not regarded a subject of interest by security services, the PA news agency understands, but reports suggest he may have previously been referred to the anti-extremism Prevent programme.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is investigating due to a member of the public being seriously injured in police custody, said the suspect was in handcuffs when shots were fired.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: "What we have established is that the man was arrested for possession of class B drugs with intent to supply and possession of ammunition.

"The man was handcuffed to the rear before being transported to Croydon Custody Suite in a police vehicle where he was escorted into the building. He remained handcuffed to the rear and seated in a holding area in the custody suite.

"His handcuffs remained in place while officers prepared to search him using a metal detector.

"It is at the point that shots were fired resulting in the fatal injuries to the officer and critical injuries to the man. A non-police issue firearm, which appears to be a revolver, has been recovered from the scene. Further ballistic work will be required."

A murder probe has been launched and investigators from the IOPC watchdog were at the scene to establish how the gun got into the custody suite.

Dame Cressida led police officers across the capital in a minute's silence on Friday at 4pm.

Sgt Ratana is thought to be the first to be killed in a shooting in the line of duty since Pcs Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, in September 2012.

The Met sergeant is the 17th from the force to be killed by a firearm since the end of the Second World War, according to the National Police Memorial roll of honour.

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