Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I Stared into the Eyes of a Killer

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I Stared into the Eyes of a Killer

Article excerpt

Byline: By Brenda Hickman

Police desk sergeant Karen Murtagh told today how wild-eyed mass killer David Bradley dumped his weapons on the counter.

Sgt Murtagh was near the end of her shift at Newcastle's West End station when former soldier Bradley strolled in.

It wasn't the normal duties Sgt Murtagh had been used to.

A front desk member of staff had gone on a break when Bradley, 41, walked in after executing four members of his family.

The officer, said: "I looked into his eyes and he told me not to be alarmed.

"He put the rucksack down on the counter and I saw him pull out a black object which had a dark cloth over it.

"I knew instinctively it was gun and this wasn't right. He was calm but looked weird. I didn't know if he was going to shoot me."

Sgt Murtagh, a mother-of-three, had gone to the desk after being told there was someone at the door-phone trying to get in.

"He had at first stayed further back. There were other people who had come in earlier and I was dealing with - people come in to hand in property or licences all the time.

"I just said 'Next' to him and it's then that he told me something like 'Don't get alarmed'."

Bradley had walked in at 5.55am on Sunday July 9 armed with a bag full of weapons, a home-made bomb and ammunition.

Caught on CCTV Sgt Murtagh's actions, along with colleague PC Andy Ritchie, who tried to warn other officers coming onto shift to stay away from the reception area, were commended by senior officers.

Bradley had shot dead his uncle and aunt Peter and Josie Purcell, both 70, together with their sons Glen, 41, and Keith, 44, in a five-hour shooting spree at their West End home. The Gulf War veteran had flipped on a hot day in early summer.

As the true horror was about to unfold, no-one knew what triggered the killing spree at the house in Benwell Grove.

Sgt Murtagh, who had worked at the West Road station for two years, told how she watched as Bradley pulled out a pump-action shotgun from the rucksack and began to assemble it.

"I went back behind the counter and alerted officers to get this man on the CCTV cameras," she added.

"Armed response officers were also alerted and my concern was what he was going to do next.

"We had to protect the officers coming in, and PC Ritchie went to open the fire exit door to tell the new staff to come in a different door while we contained him in reception at around 6.30am."

Keeping her nerve Sgt Murtagh got Bradley to retreat while they were able to pull in the guns.

"It must have all happened within five seconds but it seemed unreal," added Sgt Murtagh.

"As he left the weapons, he initially walked outside where Andy had a confronted him.

He remained calm throughout."

PC Ritchie said: "Are you all right mate?"

Bradley: "No not really. …

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