How the Plymouth gunman's rampage unfolded leaving five people dead
13th August 2021

12 minutes of utter carnage: How the Plymouth gunman’s sickening rampage unfolded and left five innocent people dead

  • Jake Davison’s shooting spree in a Plymouth suburb on Thursday is Britain’s worst for more than a decade
  • It began shortly before 6.11pm on Thursday when Davidson kicked down the door to his own home and launched into an argument with his mother, Maxine, who he then shot
  • Witnesses described watching in terror as Davidson, 22, went out into the street and began shooting indiscriminately at unsuspecting passersby and those who tried to help the injured
  • Davidson killed Maxine, 51, Sophie Martyn, three, her father Lee, 43, Stephen Washington, 53, and Kate Shepherd, 66, before turning the gun on himself. Mother and son Michelle and Ben Parsonage survived 

The rampage lasted for just 12 minutes – but it left five innocent people and their killer dead and the whole nation in shock.

Jake Davison’s shooting spree in a quiet suburb of Plymouth on a summer’s evening is Britain’s worst for more than a decade.

The first warning residents had in the cul-de-sac of Biddick Drive was when Davison, 22, burst into the house he shared with his mother and began shouting on Thursday evening.

However, the heated argument quickly became murderous.

His killing spree began shortly before 6.11pm, when terrified neighbours made a flurry of 999 calls to Devon and Cornwall Police’s control room.

They told operators they could hear gunfire and there was a man with a pump-action shotgun killing people at random.

Jake Davison’s shooting spree in a quiet suburb of Plymouth on a summer’s evening is Britain’s worst for more than a decade

Davidson(pictured)’s killing spree began shortly before 6.11pm, when terrified neighbours made a flurry of 999 calls to Devon and Cornwall Police’s control room

One witness, Sharron Turner, 57, who lives nearby, said Davison kicked in the door of a property – now known to be his own home – where he turned the gun on his 51-year-old mother, Maxine, who had cancer.

‘Firstly, there was shouting, followed by gunshots – three, possibly four to begin with,’ she said. ‘This was when the shooter kicked in the door of a house and randomly started shooting. He ran from the house shooting as he ran.’

Some in his line of fire had lucky escapes.

On his way out, still clutching the weapon, Davison, who was dressed in black and grey, told a stunned passer-by: ‘Nothing to worry about, mate.’

But an instant later he gunned down a girl of three, Sophie Martyn, who was pushing a toy pram up the street accompanied by her adoptive father Lee, 43.

Mr Martyn was shot in the back when he tried to protect his daughter.

The pair – who had tried to run away – were then shot at least twice more at close range, killing them instantly.

Davison is said to have ‘hovered’ over their bodies for a moment after slaughtering them before carrying on down the road.

One retired resident who lives opposite and watched the murders from his kitchen window, said he ‘couldn’t believe what I was seeing’.

The shocked local added: ‘We were sat in our kitchen when we heard shots in the street, so we looked outside.

Jake Davison’s mother Maxine (left) was his first victim. He stored into her home where he lived and launched into an argument before shooting

Sophie Martyn, three, and her father Lee, 43, (pictured above) were shot at random as Plymouth incel gunman Jake Davison entered Biddick Drive and fatally killed the pair who were walking up the road

‘A man was running with his little girl who was pushing a toy pram as she ran. There was no noise or screaming, they were just running.

‘This bloke with the gun stopped about 15ft from them, raised his gun to his shoulder, and shot the man in the back.

‘He fell on to his daughter, protecting her even though he may have been dying.’

Speaking of Davison, the witness added: ‘He walked up and stood over them and fired from inches away to finish them off.

‘It looked like first he shot the man in the head, then through the body, and I think that shot went through and killed the child.

‘This is on the pavement across the road from my house. You don’t witness a murder, two people killed right in front of you, every day. He was just shooting indiscriminately.’

By now armed police were on their way. But Davison, a crane driver whom relatives claimed had mental health problems but was unable to get help in lockdown, had not finished.

Davison entered a nearby wooded area where he shot and murdered dog walker Stephen Washington, 59, (above)

Still on Biddick Drive, he aimed and shot at two locals, named by family members as Ben Parsonage, 33, and his mother, Michelle, 53, who had gone out to help the earlier victims. Both received ‘significant’ injuries but survived.

Ben’s brother, Jordan, confirmed his brother and mother had been caught up in the carnage.

In a message posted on social media later, he said: ‘Just a little update… Ben is now home and going to make a full recovery.

‘My mum has to have an operation on her arm and is expected to make a full recovery.’

Peggy Holliday, an intern at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, was walking to a shop when she heard screaming. There were also gunshots, which she thought initially were fireworks.

She said: ‘A couple of the gunshots went off and I ran opposite a pub and the owner came out and he shouted at me, ‘Get in here, get in here now!’

‘I forward-rolled into the pub and I literally clung underneath one of the pool tables for dear life and I froze.

‘I said, ‘There’s shooting, it’s violent, it’s terrifying’. It literally felt like a living nightmare. It felt like I was being hunted.’

Davison, who held a licence for the shotgun, entered a nearby strip of open land known to locals in the Keyham area of Plymouth as the ‘dog park’, where he shot Stephen Washington, 59, who was walking his two husky dogs. He died at the scene.

One witness said: ‘I went up there to see if I could help and there was a bloke lying on the grass face down. He was obviously dead, and his two dogs were running free.’

Davison, who was still shooting at random, turned into Royal Navy Avenue and then into Henderson Place where, ‘without a word’, he shot Kate Shepherd, 66, who was smoking a cigarette outside the Blush hairdressing salon.

A 16-year-old boy, who was walking to a supermarket when he saw the murder, said: ‘She fell to the floor and he just carried on walking. He didn’t say anything to her. I don’t know if she worked at the salon or not. A man in a hoodie arrived and held his hands over her stomach wounds. I couldn’t believe what I saw.’

Police and forensic officers in the area around Biddick Drive in Plymouth today following the shootings yesterday

His friend Caitlin Greyling, 19, added: ‘Paramedics were working on the woman. I could see them moving up and down as they did compressions on her chest.

‘After a while they stopped and I thought maybe she has been saved, but she hadn’t.’ Police later confirmed Mrs Shepherd had died at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital.

Davison then doubled back to garages at the back of the hairdressers, where he put the gun to his own head and killed himself.

Another witness said: ‘He just looked around, turned the gun on himself and fired it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was like a horror movie.’ 

By then, police including armed officers from the nearby naval base had arrived in Biddick Drive, where they discovered a scene of carnage.

They quickly traced Davison’s steps and found his body. He was pronounced dead at 6.23pm.

Survivor Bert Pinkerton told the BBC he had walked past the gunman, who had a ‘vacant stare’, adding: ‘The bloke was walking towards me. I could smell the gunfire. It could have been me.’

Police work near the scene on Biddick Drive following the shooting in the Keyham area of Plymouth yesterday evening

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