The apartment block where officers arrested cop killer for having ammunition but missed his gun
THIS is the London apartment block where officers arrested the cop killer on suspicion of having ammunition – but missed his gun.
The suspect was arrested outside Anderson Heights, Norbury, as he walked towards Streatham at about 1.44am on Friday.
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A witness said a police car pulled up next to him as he walked to shops on London Road.
It isn't clear if he was handcuffed or searched, but witnesses said he reacted calmly.
He was then taken to the Croydon station in a van – with Sergeant Matt Ratana shot minutes later inside the custody suite.
Cops confirmed the suspect had been picked up during a routine stop and search by patrolling officers in the SW16 area of London.
What do we know so far:
- Sergeant Matt Ratana was shot and died yesterday morning
- Police launched a murder probe
- He was fatally wounded as he booked in a suspect to Croydon Custody Centre
- The suspect was arrested on suspicion of possessing ammunition and managed to bring a gun inside
- The 23-year-old, thought to be Sri Lankan with "extremist views", pulled the weapon out and fired
- He hit himself with a bullet and is in hospital
- Heartbroken family and friends have paid tribute to the Sgt
- He was months away from retirement after almost 29 years at the Met
A cordon is still in place outside the block of flats today, with officers standing guard.
There is also police tape around an outdoor fire exit stairwell.
It is thought the suspect may have dropped either ammo or drugs in bushes outside.
The onlooker told The Sun: “He looked relaxed, he didn’t seem to resist arrest. The incident went on for about 20 minutes.
“The unmarked car pulled up in front of him as he was walking towards Streatham, and I could see about four or five officers.
“I couldn’t see if he was handcuffed but he was taken away in the van.
“He definitely doesn’t live in the flats but he was arrested outside.”
The 54-year-old – who was months from retirement – was blasted in the chest by a gunman who also tried to kill two other officers as he was released from a holding cage in Croydon, South London.
The suspect, 23, pulled the revolver from his trousers while cuffed behind his back and fired at Sgt Ratana before two other cops jumped on him.
He was a great big friendly bear of a man, one of the loveliest men you could meet.
The gunman blazed off more shots, five in all, in a fierce struggle in the corridor at 2.15am.
One hit himself in the neck, leaving him critical and under armed guard in hospital last night.
Medics performed open heart surgery on Sgt Ratana at the custody centre in Croydon, South London. He was airlifted to hospital but later pronounced dead.
It is believed that special constables failed to find the gun when they had earlier detained him on suspicion of possessing drugs and ammunition.
Desperate colleagues battled to save the stricken officer's life before he was rushed to hospital, where he died soon after.
Today emotional colleagues embraced as they left flowers outside the station – dozens of tributes have already been left, including a police hat and rugby ball.
It was revealed Sgt Ratana had moved to work in custody as it was safer, as he neared retirement.
'LOVED HIS JOB'
Originally from Hawke’s Bay, Sgt Ratana came to the UK in 1989 and played rugby for London Irish.
The officer had served with the Met Police since 1991 and worked in Croydon from 2015.
The New Zealand-born rugby coach had told colleagues he intended to quit as early as next year, and posted of his excitement at the prospect of “a long healthy life”.
Pals said Sgt Ratana, dad to a grown-up son, dreamed of travelling Europe on his motorbike then coaching at his rugby club in Sussex.
His partner of four years Sue Bushby was said to be devastated and was being comforted by friends.
Her sister Amanda Tessier, a community nurse, told The Sun: “He was a great big friendly bear of a man, one of the loveliest men you could meet.
“He was absolutely dedicated to being a police officer and had almost 30 years of service.
“He knew the dangers of being a police officer in London but for him it was all part of the job."
The veteran officer's cousin, Adrian Rurawhe, said: "He was really proud to be a police officer, he was also really proud to be Māori from New Zealand."
Mr Rurawhe, a Labour MP, described Sgt Ratana, who worked at the Croydon Custody Centre, as "fearless".
He added: "Matt really loved his job. He knew what he had signed up and the risks involved. He was never afraid but he was not reckless either.
“He would have followed every correct procedure in the way he carried out his job.”
"He wasn't a big risk taker, but he wasn't afraid to challenge the norm.
The suspect, of Sri Lankan heritage, was referred to the Government’s Prevent anti-terrorism programme several years ago over fears about alleged sympathies towards Islamic extremism. He was not on MI5’s radar or on any watchlists.
A source said: “He was on the very edge of the terrorism landscape. Mental health is a key line of inquiry.”
The man is said to have expressed extreme right-wing and Islamist views and was referred to the Channel programme, which deals with the most serious Prevent terror cases, according to The Times.
But sources stressed it was not deemed necessary for MI5 or counter terrorism cops to investigate him.
STOPPED AND SEARCH
Earlier the suspect had been stopped and searched by two special constables close to a community centre in a crime hotspot.
He was arrested on suspicion of dealing cannabis and possessing ammunition and taken to the custody centre in Windmill Lane.
He remained handcuffed until a door was opened for him to be searched with a metal detector.
A source said: “He was cuffed behind his back and given a pat down. It would appear the suspect has somehow managed to conceal the gun on his body.”
"However, there are rules preventing any intimate body searches on the street. It can only be done when a suspect is booked into a custody suite."
The source added: “The sergeant opened the door to admit him and take his temperature to comply with Covid rules. But the suspect shot him at point-blank range.”
Sgt Ratana is the tenth officer to have been killed in the line of duty in the past decade, and the first since PC Andrew Harper was killed by thieves while responding to a burglary in Berkshire in August last year.
Daniel Michaels said he has been held in the custody suite and was searched throughly – including strip searches.
He said: "I can’t believe this. I was arrested and taken in there and searched numerous times and the security is very tight. This is unbelievable.
"You get searched every step of the way. You get searched before you get in the car, after and when you arrive and then when you get into the suite. How an earth has this happened? It’s madness."
Dame Cressida confirmed that he leaves behind a partner and an adult son from a previous relationship.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct will investigate the shocking circumstances of the officer's death.
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