Police shooting stuns village

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Residents of Goudhurst were yesterday coming to terms with a police shooting that left one man dead.

He was named locally as 36-year-old William Smith, who was on bail in connection with the death of a Benenden man during a break-in at his home.

Roy Blackman was bludgeoned to death on March 21 at his house on Headcorn Road during a violent burglary in which his safe and an air rifle were stolen.

Six people were arrested in connection with the incident, including Mr Smith, who is believed to have been on bail at the time of the shooting, which occurred at 8.30pm on Sunday at a travellers’ site in Smith Lane.

One local resident, who lives near where the incident took place, described on social media hearing the shots.

Ashley Wilson said: “I heard this happening – although I didn’t know what it was at the time. I said it sounded like gunshots, then just after, lots of raised voices as I put the chickens away.

“Now we’ve got police and news crews all over the Smiths/Lidwells junction.”

Others described hearing police helicopters overhead and being pulled over by police while driving near the site during the hours following the incident, which was near the centre of the village.

Mr Smith was known to occasionally frequent the Weeks Bakery and Tea Rooms in the centre of the village, where one regular, who did not want to be named, said: “I did not talk to him much, but he seemed OK.

“It is a very sad incident really and people around the village are asking questions about it as they want to know the answers themselves.

“It is very rare that anything like this would happen here, which is why it is so shocking as people do not expect it.

“It’s better known for being a place where people come on holiday and for a quiet walk.”

Half a mile from the entrance to Smith Lane, Lou and Caroline Lizzi run the Green Cross Inn.

Mr Lizzi said: “Everyone is surprised and we are bit stunned by it.”

Mrs Lizzi added: “It is shocking but we do not know the ins and outs of it.”

Rev Hugh Nelson, the vicar of St Mary’s Church, said his thoughts were with all those involved: “We will be praying for the police and for the family of the man who was shot, as well as the community as a whole.”

A Kent Police spokesman said: “Shots were fired during the incident. One man was fatally injured at the scene and a firearm has been recovered.

“Formal identification of that man has not yet taken place but the family of a man officers wanted to locate in connection with the murder in Biddenden, have been informed.

“The matter has now been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as is mandatory for all police shootings.”

A spokesman for the IPCC said: “The incident occurred during a planned police operation.

“Tests are being carried out on what appears to be a non-police firearm found at the scene.”

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