|18 May 1960
|19 August 1987
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27-year-old Michael Ryan shot dead 16 people and wounded 14 others in the small farming community of Hungerford in Berkshire during the summer of 1987. Armed with two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun,
Ryan went on a "Rambo style" attack through the streets of Hungerford, he barricaded himself in a school building where he killed himself with a single gunshot to his head. Ryan, loved guns and television violence.
Wednesday 19th August 1987, Ryan drove to local beauty spot, Savernake forest, there he encountered Sue Godfrey, At gunpoint he forced her to strap her children into her car, and then led her deep into the woods, carrying a groundsheet. The elder of the children heard shots and saw Ryan run to his car and drive off. She unstrapped herself and her brother, and went looking for her mother – instead she found a seventy-five year old woman, Myrna Rose, who raised the alarm. When police found Mrs Godfrey, she had been shot 13 times in the back. The presence of the groundsheet, and the position of the wounds suggest that rape may had been intended.
Ryan then drove to his usual petrol station and filled his car up, but instead of paying, he took a gun from the boot of his car and fired at the owner's wife, Kakoub Dean. He missed, and moved in to fire again, but the gun was empty. Ryan then drove away at high speed.
He reached his house at 12.40pm, changed into military clothing and collected three guns from his arsenal. He put those, plus an extensive survival kit into his car, doused the house in petrol and set it alight.
Attempting to flee the scene, Ryan became angry when his car would not start. Infuriated, Ryan shot five bullets into the car, then turned the gun, a semi-automatic rifle, on neighbours Roland and Sheila Mason, who were in their garden next door, shooting them both dead.
He then began running up and down the lane he lived in, South View, firing shots indiscriminately. He wounded several neighbours – Marjory Jackson in her home, as she phoned her husband for help, and fourteen-year-old Lisa Mildenhall and Fiona Pask, the mother of one of the kids he used to fire air pellets at, as he turned toward Hungerford Common, before killing Ken Clements, who was walking down the street.
Traffic policeman PC Roger Brereton was the next victim, killed as he responded to a call on his radio. Dozens of bullets were fired into the police car as it turned into South View. Brereton managed to get out a distress call before he died from his injuries.
Ryan fired into another car, wounding occupants Angela and Linda Chapman, shot Abdul Khan and Alan Lepetit on the street, wounding Lepetit and killing Khan, and fired into the vehicle that brought Marjory Jackson's husband home in response to her phone call, killing the driver, George White, and injuring Ivor Jackson, who feigned death, hoping Ryan wouldn't investigate and finish him off.
At this point his mother, Dorothy Ryan, returned home, and walked into South View, trying to persuade her son to stop. He shot her twice, killing her instantly.
Finally, he left South View, slipping unnoticed into a playing field, as people tried to deal with the carnage he had left in the street – seven dead, and five wounded, and a house in flames.
While the Police Armed Offender Squad got themselves prepared and tried to locate and isolate him, Ryan seemed to just stroll through Hungerford, leaving a trail of dead and wounded behind him.
Betty Tolladay, wounded in the leg as she came into her garden to complain, thinking the noise was children letting off fireworks, Francis Butler, shot three times and killed as he walked his dog in a park, Marcus Barnard, killed as he drove his taxi to pick up a fare, wounding salesman John Storms, then killing Ken Wainwright, Erie Vardy and Sandra Hill, each as they drove along Priory Avenue.
Ryan then broke into the home of Jack and Myrtle Gibbs, shooting them both. Jack died instantly, Myrtle, from her wounds the next day.
From the house he fired several times, injuring two people in their homes, and fatally wounding Ian Playle, as he drove past.
Finally, Ryan made his way to the John O' Gaunt School, barricaded himself into one of the rooms where he had been taught, and carried on a terse conversation with police At 6.52pm, he shot himself.
Many theories were suggested about what caused the tragedy – newspapers drew parallels between the actions of Ryan and John Rambo in the film "First Blood", but there was no evidence that Ryan had ever seen the film; it certainly wasn't something he talked about to colleagues. Fantasy role playing games have also been suggested as material in influencing him.
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