Tuesday, August 30, 2005

London ritual murder

There are so many crazy new stories about the London shooting, but I've been trying to understand this one in The Guardian:

"Armed police officers fired at Jean Charles de Menezes for over 30 seconds when they killed him at Stockwell tube station, according to a witness statement made to independent investigators and obtained by the Guardian.

The witness says the shots were fired at intervals of three seconds and that she ran for her life fearing terrorists had opened fire on commuters."


The witness was Sue Thomason, a freelance journalist from south London, who apparently correctly said that eleven shots were fired at a time when the actual number of shots was not made public. Some excerpts from her testimony:

"The shots were evenly spaced with about three seconds between the shots, for the first few shots, then a gap of a little longer, then the shots were evenly spaced again."


and:

"I recall hearing gunshots . . . The shooting was coming from the carriage to the left of me. When I heard the gunshots I thought it was terrorists firing into the crowd. I thought about getting behind a seat . . . After the initial first shots . . . I left the carriage."


and:

"While I was making my way to the escalator I remember hearing more shots coming from behind me. I thought that I would be shot in the back... Half way up the escalator I remember looking behind me and hearing two more shots... "Once I got outside the station my legs went.

I would say there was 10 or 11 shots fired. The shots were . . . evenly spaced out (timewise)."


What the hell?! Remember these were extremely close-range shots to the head. I can understand a panic response when a flurry of shots is fired almost simultaneously, but this timing is just plain weird. It would sound something like this (for those who count seconds by counting Mississippi's!):

  • BANG

  • [time space . . . one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi]

  • BANG

  • [time space . . . one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi]

  • BANG

  • [longer time space . . . one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi . . . four Mississippi . . . five Mississippi]

  • BANG

  • [time space . . . one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi]

  • BANG

  • [time space . . . one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi]


and so on, up to eleven shots, spaced out over a period of thirty seconds.


She says that the two investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission who interviewed her used a map of Stockwell tube which had key features in the wrong place, and omitted the number of shots and the intervals between them from her statement until she insisted that this information be included! Her story rings true, as she could confirm the interval based on the time it took for her physical escape from the scene of the crime.


Was this some kind of ritual killing? Did the number of shots and their timing have a meaning to the SAS? Is it like a twenty-one gun salute? Can anyone confirm if similar SAS executions in Ireland had similar characteristics?

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