Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Terror in Hungerford

Erasing Himself

Kalashnikov AK-47
Kalashnikov AK-47

After leaving the service station, aware that the police would probably be coming soon, Ryan knew he had to hurry.  There was no turning back now.  In his car he had plenty of ammunition, military clothing, a first-aid kit, grenades, and several types of firearms: a Beretta 9-mm semiautomatic pistol, an M1 carbine semiautomatic assault rifle, and a Kalashnikov AK-47, loaded with destructive armor-piercing bullets.   (Lane and Gregg say he had two pistols, but another report said that while he admitted to police that he owned another pistol, it was not in shooting condition and not in his possession.)

Beretta 9-mm semiautomatic pistol
Beretta 9-mm semiautomatic pistol
As several neighbors watched, Ryan went into the house to get what he needed.  They noticed that he seemed upset.  Next-door neighbor Victor Noon called out to him and he gave a distracted answer before going inside.  But that was not unusual.  They all knew him as an unfriendly recluse, despite the fact that his mother was a cheerful sort.

Those outside heard muffled shots in the house and grew curious about what the young man was up to.  It came out later that Ryan had shot the family dogs, a mongrel and a black Labrador retriever.  (Some accounts say there was only one dog.)  He had loved that dog, and later said that he shot it with his eyes closed, but today everything in his life was going to die.   He had already decided.  He then emerged wearing a flak jacket and headband, and carrying a bag.  Having filled this bag with food and other goods that might tide him over during a siege, he got into the car and turned the key in the ignition.  But it would not start.  He tried again, but the car was dead.

Angry now, Ryan got out, used his pistol to shoot four bullets into the trunk, and then went back inside to douse the house with petrol from the five-liter can.  Once he was done, he lit a match and set the place on fire. (Some sources say he lit the fire and then found his car malfunctioning, others that he tried the car before going back to ignite the house.)  Since other homes were attached to his, what he did was clearly a danger to his neighbors as well.

Slinging the rifle and AK-47 over his shoulder and holding the Beretta on one hand, he started off down the street.  He spotted two of his neighbors, Roland and Sheila Mason, and shot them.  Roland took six bullets and Sheila one.  They both died instantly.  Another neighbor who witnessed the massacre tried to hide in her home, but Ryan saw her through a window and shot her as well, wounding her, before he continued on his way.  She said that she saw him jog up and down the street several times, shooting at anything that moved and seeming determined to kill all of his neighbors.  Despite her wounds, she called her husband, who was working not far away, to warn him about the danger.  He set out to come to his wifes aid.  Oddly, a witness saw Ryan warn several children to get off the street and go inside.

An elderly woman, Dorothy Smith, went out to scold the person making so much noise.  She swore at him, noting that he gave her a vacant look, as if there were something wrong with him, and then he turned and left.   She was one of the lucky ones.  Ryan moved on, going along a footpath to continue his deadly attack in another area.

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