Probe launched after man shot dead by police LATEST

An investigation was under way today after a 42-year-old man was shot dead by police during a seven-hour armed siege at his West Yorkshire home.

Alistair Bell was gunned down by police marksmen in the West Yorkshire village of Kirkheaton, near Huddersfield, after shooting one Pc and opening fire on his West Yorkshire Police colleagues.

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The incident unfolded when uniformed police arrived at the loner's home in Cockley Hill Lane at about 10pm on Monday to arrest him on suspicious of making threats.

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Police said he shot one unarmed male officer on the doorstep who was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

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Bell then moved back into the end-terrace house and continued to fire throughout the night as police negotiators tried to coax him out.

Nearby residents said the incident ended at 5.30am when they heard one shot followed a moment later by three louder shots in quick succession.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was today investigating the incident and probing the actions of West Yorkshire Police.

Eyewitness Mark Blezzard, 30, who lives opposite Bell, said he heard around eight or nine shots during the night-long stand-off.

He said: "Loads of police turned up - some carrying machine guns.

"They lit the house up like a Christmas tree and the armed police were behind hedges."

Mr Blezzard, who works as an engineer, said he stayed up all night watching what was happening.

He said: "The police were shouting 'drop your weapon - drop your weapon' and all that carry on.

"I reckon there were about eight or nine shots through the night. I'm sure I heard one bounce off a wall."

Locals said Bell had lived in the village all his life and his parents also lived nearby.

They said he was "well known to the police" and had served a number of jail terms, including one serious sentence of around seven years.

They said he lived alone with his pit-bull type dog and they could not remember him having a job.

Margaret Ainley, who lives on the road, said: "He was a bit of a troubled lad, there were problems with drugs I think.

"He never bothered me and would always wave if we crossed in the street.

"He didn't work mind, and lived in the house on his own. It's all a bit of a shock really."

Another neighbour who lives opposite the house said the gunman was a "loner".

She said: "I've seen the man who lives in the house around quite a bit, he tended to keep himself to himself though and seemed a bit of a loner."

But Mr Bell's friend Shane Livingstone said: "He was a good bloke - a very good bloke."

Mr Livingstone, who lives a few hundred yards from Mr Bell's house, said they went to school together in Almondbury, Huddersfield.

Retired local butcher Raymond Berry, 81, said he knew Mr Bell's family.

"I knew them all," he said. "They're a local family. You would see Alistair around the village with his dog."

West Yorkshire Police said they tried to resolve the situation peacefully although shots were "continually" fired at officers.

Officers initially attended the address to arrest Bell on suspicion of making threats towards another man at a nearby property earlier in the day, a spokesman added.

Last night, firearms expert Mike Yardley said the shooting of Bell should prompt a reassessment of police firearms tactics and weaponry.

Mr Yardley, a former Army officer who has written widely on gun policy, repeated the view he expressed following the shooting of London barrister Mark Saunders that specialist police marksmen should be trained to shoot-to-wound in certain circumstances.

He said: "The individual police officer is under enormous pressure and strain. It is not the fault of the individual officer for acting in accordance with his training.

"What we can do is consider whether or not we can go forward from this. Perhaps there are other options."

All British police forces regularly assert that shooting to wound in circumstances where a suspect is threatening officers and members of the public is impractical and potentially dangerous.

But Mr Yardley said he believed British police firearms tactics and training relied too much on following military protocols and procedures.

He said there should be more emphasis on developing new weapons which would help skilled marksmen take non-lethal options.

"Of course we don't know the details of today's incident," Mr Yardley said.

"In the case of the barrister, from what I have seen of the footage there was a possibility of a wounding shot by an experienced sniper."

He went on: "A wounding shot doesn't mean it won't kill him. It may well do so. But there's a possibility it may not."

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