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Seaford man shot in police stand-off
1:03pm Monday 17th September 2012 in News
A shotgun-wielding man was left fighting for his life after a shoot-out with police at his Seaford home.
Paul Allwright was wounded when a five-hour armed stand-off at his home ended in violence.
Sussex Police said “shots were exchanged” when the 62-year-old appeared on his doorstep shortly before 1am yesterday (Sun).
The shooting in Seaford is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission but Sussex Police are treating the incident as an attempted murder of police officers.
One neighbour described how a police negotiator had pleaded: “Paul, will you talk to us?” during the siege.
Others were woken by the gunfire. Some people who had gone out for the evening were not allowed to pass the police cordon and had to spend the night at Cradle Hill Primary School, which was used as a base by emergency services.
Sussex Police said officers were called to “a domestic incident” in North Way, Seaford, at about 7.10pm on Saturday.
Mr Allwright’s wife is understood to have called them to report her husband had a gun. She left the house safely soon afterwards.
A long stand-off followed as armed police took positions outside the house.
An 80-year-old neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said she could hear a police negotiator urging Mr Allwright to talk to them.
He would reply by shouting: “This is my property, I don’t want you here.” At one point, officers put a ladder up against the back fence of the house.
The neighbour said she realised Mr Allwright was armed when he came out and pushed the ladder over.
She said: “He was leaning over the fence. There is a light there and it reflected off what looked like a shotgun.
“You begin to think, oh dear, what is happening here?”
Shots were fired when Mr Allwright appeared on his doorstep shortly before 1am.
Sussex Police’s said in a statement: “Police negotiators engaged with the man for several hours, but shortly before 1am on Sunday morning, he left the house and shots were exchanged with armed officers from Surrey and Sussex tactical firearms unit.
“The man appeared to be wounded, but went back into the house. Officers then reacted as swiftly and as safely as possible to enter the house and administer first aid.”
Spencer Brown, 13, of The Holt, Seaford, said: “I didn’t hear any shouting, but I definitely heard gunshots.”
A couple living in nearby North Way, who did not wish to be named, said: “We heard four shots. Three of the shots were very, very muffled, and there was one almighty crack.”
It is understood two officers suffered minor injuries when they went in to deal with the stricken man, though ussex Police said they were not shot. A shotgun was found at the scene.
Mr Alwright was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. Police said his injuries were “life-threatening” and described his condition last night as “critical, but stable”.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the shooting as a matter of routine.
That body issued a statement saying: “The IPCC received a referral from Sussex police about a shooting in Seaford in the early hours of Sunday, September 16.
“Investigators were sent to the scene and an independent IPCC investigation into the shooting of a man by police has been launched. “The investigation into the actions of the man immediately before the shooting remain with Sussex Police."
The IPCC refused to reveal where on his body the man was shot, who fired first, or any further information about what it would be investigating.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Matters of this nature are always referred to the IPCC and are not indicative of any wrong doing on the part of Sussex Police, who welcome the outside scrutiny and will work fully to support the investigation.”
People in the street said they were shocked by the violence.
Christopher Young, 60, of North Way, said: “It is very quite generally. There are a lot of retired people in the vicinity.”
Ben McCormick, who was housesitting opposite Mr Allwright’s home, said: “I heard a couple of bangs. I thought, it can’t be anything really, because it’s Seaford.
“I came out this morning and saw police tape on my roofrack.”
Chief Inspector Jason Tingley, police commander for the Lewes District, thanked Cradle Hill Community Primary School for its help to emergency services and in supporting people who could not go home.
He said: “The patience of the Seaford residents was tested because we had the helicopter up for some time.
“We have been working with the Seaford council to provide as much reassurance to residents as we can.”