Tyne & Wear

Memorial vigil planned for shot Wallsend cow Bessie

'Bessie' the cow Image copyright RIP Wallsend Cow
Image caption The cow, nicknamed Bessie, was shot "in the interests of public safety", police said

A memorial vigil will be held for a cow that was shot dead by police marksmen.

The cow, nicknamed Bessie, was one of three that escaped from Rising Sun Country Park in North Tyneside on Sunday.

A helicopter and six police marksmen tracked the trio - two were recaptured but Bessie was shot "in the interests of public safety".

The vigil is to take place at 18:00 BST on Friday, at a field in Chicken Lane, Wallsend.

Thousands of people have liked a Facebook page set up in her memory.

Those attending the vigil are asked to wear a cow onesie and bring a candle.

Image copyright RIP Wallsend Cow
Image caption Several police marksmen responded to the call about cows on the loose

'Docile little cow'

Dave Turner, who set up the R.I.P. Wallsend Cow Facebook page, said: "It's not every day you get a cow getting shot in a field nearby. I think we need to mark this occasion with a serious send-off for Bessie.

"It wasn't doing anything, it was just eating a bit of grass - it probably got sick of the grass it was eating elsewhere, it heard about a nice new patch, went down and started grazing, and the next thing is police turn up and start firing at it.

"We are going to light candles and say a little prayer for her."

Photographer John Millard witnessed the cow being shot dead, and described the scene to BBC Radio 5 live.

He said there was a "massive police presence" with more than 15 police vehicles, a helicopter hovering overhead, and three or four officers in sniper gear.

He originally thought it could have been terrorist-related, rather than, as he then realised, a "docile little cow standing in a field".

A Northumbria Police spokesman said Bessie was destroyed after becoming "increasingly distressed" and "causing dangerous and severe obstructions" on a major road.

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