A major manhunt is continuing into a third night as police search for a suspected ‘crossbow killer’ after an attack on a man and his pregnant partner at their home in a rural East Yorkshire village.
Thirty-year-old Shane Gilmer died on Saturday after an attack at the couple’s home on Friday night, while his partner Laura Sugden and their unborn baby are said to be in a stable condition.
The village of Southburn near Driffield has been in ‘lockdown’ all weekend as police searched nearby woods for a suspect named by detectives as Anthony Lawrence, the couple’s neighbour. And tonight, as police confirmed a crossbow had been recovered, senior officers urge members of the public not to approach the wanted man.
“We believe he is still in the country,” Detective Chief Superintendent Judi Heaton said. “We are investigating a murder and an attempted murder here.
“We have found a crossbow and we are examining it as a potential weapon. Clearly this is someone who should not be approached by the public, but we do believe this was an isolated incident and these people were known to one another.”
The attack happened at the couple’s home in Southburn on Friday evening. A murder enquiry was launched after Mr Gilmer died in hospital on Saturday morning. The village of Southburn, a small hamlet consisting of just a few houses, has been cordoned off all weekend as police search teams, sniffer dogs and helicopters scoured the area.
A car linked to the suspect, a blue Vauxhall Meriva, was recovered and is being examined by forensic teams.
Neighbours have spoken of their horror at hearing of the tragedy in this normally peaceful area.
“I’ve never known a quieter village for something like this to happen in,” said Chris King, 25.
East Riding of Yorkshire councillor for the Southburn area, Coun Felicity Temple added: “It is a terrible shame and I am very sorry it has happened.
“Obviously, my deep heart-felt sympathies go out to the family of those involved.”
Det Chief Supt Heaton said officers were to continue tomorrow to go door-to-door in the area to reassure residents.
“It’s clear that the public and the local community has been very shocked by this,” she said. “It is a fairly quiet area. We are looking for him, we are very active, and will be for the next few days.”
Humberside Police has taken the rare step of naming the man they want to talk to in connection with the incident.
Mr Lawrence, who is also known as Tony Howarth, is described as white, 56-years-old, 5ft 10in tall and balding, with close cropped dark hair.
Reiterating calls not to approach Mr Lawrence, Det Chief Supt Heaton said: “This was an isolated incident and he was known to Shane and Laura – they were neighbours.
“However, we don’t know how he will react if challenged, so do not approach him. Call 999 and leave it to us.”