Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Terror in Hungerford

Left Alive

The shooter had to fill his car with petrol, an oversight that indicated he may not have planned his campaign very well that day.   Kakoub Dean, the wife of the owner of the Golden Arrow Service Station, watched from behind safety glass at the pay kiosk as the man dressed in black filled the tank of his metallic silver Vauxhall Astra GTE, as well as a five-liter can. 

Bullet hole at gas station
Bullet hole at gas station

She knew him.  He often stopped there to get gas, but never engaged in friendly banter. He also never bought so much gas at one time.  She thought his behavior was unusual enough to keep an eye on him.  Another customer came to pay and returned to his car, while the man in black went to the back to look for something in the trunk.  Mrs. Dean turned away but then she saw what he had been doing.  Hed taken out a semi-automatic rifle and gone into a shooters stance, pointing the weapon right at her.  She ducked and when he pulled the trigger, the shot missed her but pierced the glass and ricocheted through the place.  She dropped down behind the counter to hide.

The man, clearly upset, came into the shop, clutching his rifle, and took aim again.  Mrs. Dean pleaded with him to spare her.  She began to cry, but her tears had no effect.  She huddled against a wall, flinching in preparation as he pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened.  He tried again, but again the gun failed to shoot.  Even a third time failed to make it work.  The gun just clicked.  Apparently it had jammed or had no bullets.  Mrs. Dean looked at the man, who clearly intended to kill her, and said later that it was as if he were looking right through her.  He did not even seem to be aware of her.  Failing in his mission, he returned to his car, got in, and sped away.

Mrs. Dean, trembling from her ordeal, watched to be sure he was gone before she called her husband and then used a national emergency number, 999, to summon the police. They had already learned about the incident from a witness who had called in an armed robbery in progress and were on their way.  It was now around 12:45 P.M.

By that time, the shooter had already arrived at his next destination.  He was at 4 South View, a dead-end street in Hungerford.  He lived there in one of the groups of lower middleclass row houses with his widowed mother.

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