Essex: Inquiry Into PC Killing Continues

Detectives have stressed a "live murder inquiry" will continue after a man wanted for murdering a police officer was found dead in a churchyard in Writtle.

Essex Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said it was vital investigations continued to establish what led to the double shootings which left PC Ian Dibell dead and another man injured.

The force is urging witnesses to come forward.

He was speaking after Peter Reeve, 64, was found dead in a churchyard in the village of Writtle near Chelmsford. Reeve is believed to have shot himself.

The force had launched a major manhunt and warned residents to stay indoors after Reeve ran amok in a residential street in the seaside town of Clacton yesterday afternoon (Monday 9th July).

PC Ian Dibell was killed as he tried to intervene. He has been described as a hero by colleagues.

Another man, named locally as Trevor Marshall, 48, is in hospital with leg injuries.

Mr Barker-McCardle said officers were following a number of lines of inquiry as to the motive for the attack.

Neighbours suggested there may have been a dispute over car-parking which spiralled out of control.

Mr Barker-McCardle said Pc Dibell, who lived near the crime scene in Redbridge Road, had "paid the ultimate price" after stepping in to protect a member of the public while off duty.

He added: "I can confirm Peter Reeve, the man wanted for the murder of a serving police officer, was found dead, with a weapon, in a Writtle churchyard and no shots were fired by the police.

"Clearly the very strong message I had to send to the public no longer applies. Any threat to the public has thankfully passed."

Reeve is understood to have had several family members living near the churchyard and some residents said he may have had a relative buried there.

A cordon remained in place around All Saints Church and a white forensic tent was erected towards the western edge of the churchyard amongst several graves.

Officers found the body after being alerted by a member of the public at about 8.30am on Tuesday.

Mr Barker-McCardle said: "Whatever may or may not turn out to have sat behind the motive, yesterday can only be described as impossible to understand and a catastrophic escalation in events.

"It is an extreme set of circumstances that a man opens fire with a gun clearly firing at more than one person and shooting an off-duty police constable dead.

"There must have been some sort of catalyst that prompted the scale of a tragedy of this kind."

Mr Dibell's family, several of whom are police officers, issued a statement saying they were devastated by his death.

They added: "We are immensely proud of Ian and the courage he showed.

"We take some comfort from his bravery.

"Policing was in his blood and Ian selflessly went to the aid of people in desperate need without fear or thought for his own safety. It was who he was, a hero.

"He has paid for the act in the most devastating way. He will be deeply missed and no words can describe the loss."

Essex Police said Reeve was ``largely unknown to the police'' and did not have a licence to hold a firearm.

Officers would not comment on Reeve's precise circumstances but said they were in contact with his family.

Mr Barker-McCardle said it was important to remember that another man had been injured and could have suffered far more serious injuries.

He said there was no reason to suspect anybody else was involved in the killing but added all possibilities would be examined.

Praising the officers working on the case, he said: "This was highly disturbing but police officers know there is a time to grieve and that is when this murder investigation is complete."

Mr Marshall's ex-wife, Pauline, told reporters she did not know of Reeve but added her voice to tributes to PC Dibell.

She said: "We are so grateful to the police officer. He is clearly a hero who saved Trevor's life."