National update: Hero wrestles gunman to ground on nuclear submarine
A COUNCIL leader heroically wrestled a gunman to the ground after he shot two Royal Navy officers on board a nuclear submarine, killing one man.
The dramatic scenes unfolded during a civic visit on board HMS Astute as it was docked in Southampton, Hampshire, at around noon yesterday.
A Royal Navy serviceman was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and remains in custody today.
Hampshire Police are conducting an investigation into the shootings in co-operation with Ministry of Defence police and naval provosts.
Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, a weapons engineer in charge of the vessel’s missiles, was killed in the gun attack, while comrade Lieutenant Commander Chris Hodge survived.
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He remains in hospital where he was said to be in a stable condition.
The Ministry of Defence is expected to issue a statement later today confirming the names of the two victims.
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Southampton City Council leader Royston Smith was visiting the submarine with other local dignitaries while it was berthed at the Eastern Docks on a five-day official visit to the city.
He described how he “wrestled” the gunman to the ground in the submarine’s control room as he attempted to stop him.
He told the BBC: “Two shots were fired, straight after he entered the control room again and began shooting again.
“I ran towards him, I pushed him against the wall, we wrestled to take the gun from him.
“He fired again, I wrestled again to get the weapon from him. I pushed him to another wall, I wrestled him to the ground and managed to take the weapon away from him then others came to help to restrain him.”
He added that a group of schoolchildren had left the submarine shortly before the incident happened.
The MoD said the shooting was not terrorist-related and there was no threat to the wider public.
It is understood that the shooting was carried out with an SA80 service rifle.
It is believed the gunman was on sentry duty and the shooting happened during a weapons changeover between shifts.
After the shooting, it is understood the gunman was grabbed by other navy personnel who handed him over to MoD police who were there as part of the civic visit.
He was then transferred to Hampshire police officers when they arrived minutes later.
Sources said the motive for the shooting was unclear but played down the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder being a factor, pointing out that the longest HMS Astute has spent at sea is 46 days.
The MoD refused to comment on claims that it took place after a row unfolded over the use of a lavatory.
Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “I am greatly saddened to hear of this tragic incident and of the death of a Royal Navy serviceman.
“It is right and proper that a full police investigation is carried out and allowed to take its course.
“My thoughts and sympathies are with those who have been affected and their families.”