Clacton PC shooting: Peter Reeve's body found by church

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Media captionChief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle: ''Peter Reeve.. was found with wounds to the head''

The man suspected of fatally shooting a policeman in Essex has been found dead.

Off-duty PC Ian Dibell, 41, was killed in Clacton-on-Sea on Monday after it is thought he intervened in a row in which another man was also shot.

Peter Reeve, 64, the suspected gunman, was found dead with a head wound in a churchyard at Writtle, near Chelmsford.

Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to PC Dibell calling his action "totally selfless" and a reminder of the "immense debt" owed to the police.

Image caption Peter Reeve was found dead with a head wound

Essex Police Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said the PC had "paid the ultimate price" by placing himself in the line of fire.

The policeman's family said they were devastated and described the officer as a hero.

A member of the public earlier alerted police to All Saints churchyard, after recognising Mr Reeve.

Mr Barker-McCardle said no shots had been fired by police sent to the scene. A handgun was found alongside Mr Reeve's body which has now been removed from the scene.

The chief constable said Mr Reeve, who had family connections in Clacton and Chelmsford, did not hold a firearms licence.

The manhunt for the suspected gunman, which involved hundreds of officers, started on Monday afternoon after police found the body of PC Dibell and the second man, who suffered leg injuries.

Mr Barker-McCardle said the PC, who lived near the Redbridge Road crime scene, was a "highly-regarded and well-liked community police officer".

"I can confirm Peter Reeve, the man wanted for the murder of a serving police officer, was found dead, with a weapon in a Writtle churchyard and no shots were fired by the police."

Image caption It is thought PC Dibell had tried to intervene in a dispute when he was shot

Mr Barker-McCardle said inquiries were ongoing into the motive for the attack, which neighbours said may be linked to a dispute over parking.

He added: "Whatever may or may not turn out to have sat behind the motive, yesterday can only be described as impossible to understand and a catastrophic escalation in events.

"It is an extreme set of circumstances that a man opens fire with a gun clearly firing at more than one person and shooting an off-duty police constable dead.

"There must have been some sort of catalyst that prompted the scale of a tragedy of this kind."

A statement from PC Dibell's family said: "We are immensely proud of Ian and the courage he showed.

"We take some comfort from his bravery. Policing was in his blood and Ian selflessly went to the aid of people in desperate need without fear or thought for his own safety.

"It was he who was a hero. He has paid for the act in the most devastating way. He will be deeply missed and no words can describe the loss."

Barry Long, landlord at Writtle's Rose and Crown pub, in the green, said at least three of his customers had heard what sounded like a gunshot thought to be connected with the discovery of Mr Reeve's body.

Mr Cameron said the thoughts of the whole country were with PC Dibell's family.

Speaking in Downing Street during a press conference with French President Francois Hollande, he said: "It is the first time I have been able to comment on the very sad death of police constable Ian Dibell.

"He was off-duty but went to help people in a totally selfless and typical way that our police officers do all of the time.

"It's a reminder of the immense debt that we owe them."

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