A gunman killed five people, including a three-year-old girl, in a “rampaging firearms attack”, targeting a family member and random members of the public before turning the weapon on himself, police said.
Jake Davison, 22, shot and killed a 51-year-old woman known to him, at a house in Biddick Drive in the Keyham area of Plymouth, Devon, in what is believed to be a domestic-related incident.
He then went outside into the street and “immediately” shot dead the young girl and her male relative, 43, in an attack witnessed by horrified onlookers.
Davison moved along Biddick Drive, where he shot at two local residents, a man aged 33 and a 53-year-old woman, who suffered significant injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
He went into a nearby park where he killed a man aged 59, before shooting a woman, aged 66, on Henderson Place. She later died in hospital.
Eye-witnesses told police that Davison, who held a firearms licence, then turned the gun on himself before armed police could engage him.
Devon and Cornwall Police received several calls about the incident at 6.11pm, with armed and unarmed officers arriving at the scene within six minutes and Davison found dead by 6.23pm.
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer told Sky News that what faced those present were “some of the most challenging scenes”.
“The first officers on scene encountered the child that had been shot in the street with the adult, using what is described as a pump-action shotgun,” Mr Sawyer said.
“I won’t expand on that but most people can imagine what that was like for arriving officers.
“Further along Biddick Drive, we then have two injured members of the public as more officers arrive.
“And then they’re pointing where Mr Davison has gone.
“Further officers are attending and then encountering a further murdered male and female, and then ultimately Mr Davison himself, who has taken his own life.”
It is believed the mass shooting began with a “domestic-related incident” between Davison and the woman who lived at a property in Biddick Drive.
Mr Sawyer said there was a “familial relationship” between Davison and the woman, but he would not clarify, as officers are still working to ensure her family are aware.
He told Sky News Davison’s motive was not yet known.
“We’ve never in my time had homicide followed by a rampaging firearms attack on random members of the public and then taking one’s life,” Mr Sawyer said.
“That is without precedent in my time as chief constable.”
Mr Sawyer described members of the public who witnessed what happened as “extremely traumatised” and said they were being supported by specialist officers.
He said it was “upsetting” that images of the incident were shared on social media, with people opening their phones and unexpectedly viewing them.
“These are particularly traumatising images,” he added.
Davison was one of thousands of people in the Devon and Cornwall Police area to have a firearms licence granted to him, the chief constable said.
A weapon, described by witnesses as a pump-action shotgun, was recovered from the scene but it is not yet known if this was the firearm Davison was licensed to hold.
Mr Sawyer said Davison’s licence would form part of the police investigation, including when it was granted, whether it was granted correctly and whether it was ever removed and then restored.
“As I understand it right now, he was still a licence-holder last night,” Mr Sawyer said.
The identities of the victims are yet to be made public, with officers working with their families.
Detectives are also examining Davison’s social media output and phone use as part of their investigations, police said.
Davison appeared to post on a YouTube account under the name Professor Waffle just weeks before the massacre, about how he was “beaten down” and “defeated by life”.
His channel was subscribed to gun-related accounts and another named Incel TV, which features content related to “involuntary celibacy”, although in one of his videos Davison said he “wouldn’t clarify myself as an incel”.
The online subculture involves men who express hostility and extreme resentment towards those who are sexually active, particularly women.
In another clip he discusses missing out on a teenage romance and refers to “Chads”, an incel community term for good-looking men who attract women.
And in another video Davison says: “I know it’s a movie but I like to think sometimes I’m the Terminator or something.
“Despite reaching almost total system failure he keeps trying to accomplish his mission.”
Mr Sawyer told Sky News that police would be building a “life picture” of Davison during their investigation.
“We need to understand what drove him to attend, we believe, a family member’s home to take her life there and then most unusually to go onto the street to do what he did,” he added.
In a press conference earlier on Friday, Mr Sawyer said officers were working with the Metropolitan Police but were not considering terrorism or a relationship with any far-right groups.
Speaking about the response time, Mr Sawyer described the six minutes between the calls to police and officers arriving on the scene as “extraordinarily rare”.
“Last night my officers, armed and unarmed, ran towards danger, at some point knowing firearms were there,” he told Sky News.
He said it was not yet known whether that response time saved lives, for example whether Davison heard or saw police attending the scene.
“The people of Keyham and my officers and the responding blue light agencies were extraordinarily brave and courageous last night,” Mr Sawyer added.
On Friday, forensic officers in protective clothing could be seen conducting fingertip searches at the scene, while a coroner’s ambulance was filmed leaving the area.
A large yellow tent was set up in the area, with several uniformed officers posted around the cordon.
Dozens of flowers, cards and soft toys have been left in tribute to the victims near the scene.
One note read: “Rest in peace. Thoughts and prayers with you all. A tragic loss. Such beautiful souls. Love to all.”
Flags in Plymouth are being flown at half-mast, while Smeaton’s Tower will be lit up as a mark of respect to the victims on Friday night.
There will be a candlelit vigil at 9pm on Friday in North Down Crescent Park to pay tribute to those who were killed.
The incident is the first mass shooting in Britain since June 2010, when taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people and injured 11 others in Cumbria.