Hungerford Massacre

The killing of 16 people by Michael Ryan at Hungerford was the first massacre by a lone gunman in this country; the terrible events of Dunblane were yet to come.

For the British media, it was thus an entirely new experience.

The coverage that resulted led to anger among many in the town, with accusations of gratuitous infringement of privacy. In time, some in the community were more forgiving, accepting that at least an element of the excesses sprang from the extraordinary nature of that day. Others, however, remain bitter, blaming the media for voyeuristically adding to the shock and grief inflicted by Ryan.

The Hungerford massacre occurred in Hungerford, Berkshire, England, on 19 August 1987. The gunman, 27-year-old Michael Robert Ryan, armed with two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun, shot and killed sixteen people including his mother, and wounded fifteen others, then fatally shot himself. A report on this incident was commissioned by the Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, from the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Colin Smith. It remains, along with the 1996 Dunblane massacre and the 2010 Cumbria shootings, one of the worst criminal atrocities involving firearms in British history.

The massacre led to the Firearms Act 1988, which banned the ownership of semi-automatic centre-fire rifles and restricted the use of shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than two rounds. The Hungerford Report had demonstrated that Ryan's collection of weapons was legally licensed.

A man has shot 14 people dead in the Berkshire town of Hungerford.
Police identified the gunman as Michael Ryan, 27.

Local people described him as a "loner" and a "gun fanatic".

Ryan was armed with an automatic rifle, a pistol and at least one hand grenade when he went on the rampage early on Wednesday afternoon.

His victims included his mother and a police officer who tried to tackle him in Hungerford which lies about 60 miles (96km) west of London.

The local Hungerford police station was in the process of being renovated and had only two telephone lines working on that day. In addition to this, the local telephone exchange could not handle the amount of 999 calls that were being made, as Ryan wreaked havoc across the suburbs and people desperately tried phoning for help. In a further twist of fate, the local police helicopter was in for repair but police mechanics eventually made it ready for flight and it was deployed at around the time Ryan shot his mother. Adding to the sound of gunfire in the area was the fact that the Thames Valley firearms squad were in training, about 40 miles away.