A man who killed five people and then took his own life in Britain’s first mass shooting in over a decade had complained online about difficulties meeting women and being “beaten down” by life.
Police said Friday the motive for the shootings was unclear but there were no immediate signs that the crime was an act of terrorism, or connected to right-wing groups.
They identified the shooter as Jake Davison, 22, and said he had a gun license, but revealed few other details. Witnesses reported that he used a pump-action shotgun in his rampage on Thursday night, police said, though they wouldn’t confirm what type of weapon it was and whether it was the one Davison was licensed to use.
Gun crimes are rare in Britain, which has strict firearm control rules.
Shaun Sawyer, chief constable for Devon and Cornwall police, told reporters that officers responding to multiple emergency calls at 6:11 p.m. arrived six minutes later at an address in Plymouth’s Keyham neighborhood, where Davison had shot and killed a woman who lived there. Police are investigating whether Davison and the victim were related, he said.
Davison then left the house and immediately shot and killed a “very young girl” and her male relative who were outside, then shot and wounded two other people farther along the street. He went to a park where he shot a man who died at the scene, then shot a woman on a nearby street who died later in hospital, Sawyer said.
The girl was three years old and the other victims ranged in age from 33 to 66, the police force said later on Twitter.
Eyewitnesses reported that Davison shot himself before police arrived. Davison was licensed to use a gun last year and police are checking whether he had the license before then.
Sawyer said investigators are not sure what his motive was, but are not considering terrorism or any links to far-right groups, though they’re keeping an open mind.
“Let’s see what’s on his hard drive, let’s see what’s on his computer, let’s see what’s on social media,” Sawyer said.
“We believe we have an incident that is domestically related that has spilled into the street and seen several people of Plymouth lose their lives in an extraordinarily tragic circumstance,” he added.
Davison appeared to post on YouTube under the name Professor Waffle in an account that has now been taken down, replaced by a notice saying it violated the site’s community guidelines. In a final 11-minute clip posted before the killings, “Professor Waffle” talks about how he was “beaten down and defeated by … life.”
He talks about struggling to stay motivated at working out and losing weight, working as a scaffolder when he was 17-18, and hinted at his lack of a love life by referring to “people who are incels” — shorthand for “involuntarily celibate.”
The “incel” movement justifies violence against women as revenge for men who are rejected as sexual partners, and believes society unjustly denies men sexual or romantic attention. The online subculture has been linked to deadly attacks in California, Toronto and Florida. Davison said that while he wouldn’t describe himself as an “incel,” they are “people similar to me, they’ve had nothing but themselves, and then they’ve socially had it tough.”
He compared himself to a businessman struggling to break even despite working long hours but who has a wife and kids supporting him.
“Does an incel virgin get that? No,” he said.
Britain’s last mass shooting was in 2010, when a taxi driver killed 12 people in Cumbria in northwest England before taking his own life.