Priest urges against ‘cycle of anger’ at prayers for Plymouth shooting victims - what he said

Prayers have been said for the five victims of the Plymouth shooting as the community comes together in mourning.

A church in Keyham close to the scene used a Sunday service to remember those killed on Thursday, while a special prayer has been written by the Bishop of Exeter.

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It came as questions continue to mount over how gunman Jake Davison, 22, obtained a firearms licence and carried out his spree before turning the gun on himself.

'Break cycle of anger'

Father David Way, parish priest at St Thomas’ Church in Keyham, told the PA news agency after the service: “Those people who have died, we have to keep those in our prayers, but also the loved ones which have been left behind.

“I’m hoping we can break any cycle of anger, as it were, and bring a cycle of love for everybody involved.”

During the service, he asked the congregation to pray for the five victims, Maxine Davison, Lee Martyn, Sophie Martyn, Kate Shepherd and Stephen Washington, adding: “We pray also for peace for Jake.”

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People pay their respects to the five shooting victims at North Down Crescent Park on August 15 in Plymouth (William Dax/Getty)People pay their respects to the five shooting victims at North Down Crescent Park on August 15 in Plymouth (William Dax/Getty)
People pay their respects to the five shooting victims at North Down Crescent Park on August 15 in Plymouth (William Dax/Getty)

The service came as a former Metropolitan Police chief said officers should trawl through social media accounts of people applying for firearms licences to ensure that “guns do not fall into the hands of dangerous people”.

Davison’s social media usage suggested an obsession with the “incel” culture, meaning “involuntary celibate”.

'Why did this happen?'

Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said there was a “sense of anger” among residents at how the events of the atrocity unfolded.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I think people’s emotions have changed from shock and disbelief into now feeling that profound loss of the five people who were killed.

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“But also a sense of anger. Wanting to know the questions as to how was this allowed to happen, why did this happen, and were there opportunities to stop this happening that were not taken?

“We need to get to the answers of those and that will take some time, and police need to be able to have the space to do it. But we need to make sure the community gets those proper answers because they deserve them.”

An investigation is already under way into Davison’s possession of a shotgun and a firearms licence, which were returned to him after being removed at the end of last year.

The police watchdog launched an investigation following a mandatory referral from Devon and Cornwall Police, which contains preliminary information that Davison’s firearm and licence were returned to him in early July this year.

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The certificate and shotgun had been removed by police in December 2020 following an allegation of assault in September 2020, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.

12-minute attack

Davison shot his 51-year-old mother, Maxine Chapman, at a house in Biddick Drive before he went into the street and shot dead Sophie, aged three, and her father Mr Martyn, 43.

In the 12-minute attack witnessed by horrified onlookers, Davison then killed Mr Washington, 59, in a nearby park before shooting 66-year-old Ms Shepherd, who later died at Derriford Hospital.

Jess Morcom, Mr Martyn’s cousin and a journalist at PlymouthLive, paid tribute to him and his daughter and spoke of the loss felt by her family.

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In a post on Twitter, she said that Mr Martyn “had the kindest heart, would do anything for anybody” and that “you only had to take one look at him to see how much he loved and adored his family”.

Davison also shot two local residents who are known to each other, a 33-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman, in Biddick Drive, who suffered significant injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.

A version of this article originally appeared on

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