Hungerford massacre occurred in Hungerford, Berkshire, England, on August 19, 1987.
gunman, 27-year-old Michael Robert Ryan, armed with two semi-automatic rifles
and a handgun
, shot and killed sixteen people including
his mother, and wounded fifteen others, then fatally shot himself.
A report on this incident was commissioned by the Home Secretary
, Douglas Hurd
, from the Chief Constable
of Thames Valley Police
, Colin Smith.
remains, along with the Dunblane
massacre, one of the worst criminal atrocities involving
firearms in British
The massacre led to the Firearms Act 1988
banned the ownership of semi-automatic centre-fire
rifles and restricted the
use of shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than two rounds.
The Hungerford Report had demonstrated that Ryan's collection of
weapons was legally licensed.
The perpetrator of the Hungerford massacre was 27-year-old
Michael Robert Ryan
, an unemployed labourer.
born at Savernake Hospital in Marlborough Wiltshire, near Hungerford, Berkshire on May 18, 1960.
Ryan was an
only child, and his father, Alfred Henry Ryan, was 55 years old
when Michael was born. Alfred Ryan died in Swindon, Wiltshire,in May 1985 at the age of 80.
alone with his mother at time of the shooting, who was a dinner
lady at the local primary school. There was extensive press comment
on this suggesting the relationship was 'unhealthy' and that Ryan
was 'spoiled' by his mother. A Guardian
headline described Ryan as a
In the days following the massacre, the British tabloid press
was filled with stories about
Michael Ryan's life. Press biographies all stated that he had a
nearly-obsessive fascination with firearms. The majority claimed
that Ryan possessed magazines about survival skills
, Soldier of Fortune
frequently named. He was also said to be a fan of the Rambo
film First Blood
in which the press erroneously
claimed events similar to the Hungerford massacre take place.
Licensed firearms ownership
Ryan had been issued a shotgun
in 1978, and on 11 December 1986 he was granted a
covering the ownership of two pistols. He later
applied to have the certificate amended to cover a third pistol, as
he intended to sell one of the two he had acquired since the
granting of the certificate, and to buy two more. This was approved
on 30 April 1987
he applied for another variation, to
cover two semi-automatic rifles, which was approved on 30 July
. At the time of the massacre, he was in
licensed possession of the following:
Ryan used the Beretta pistol, and the Type 56 and M1 rifles, in the
massacre. The CZ pistol was being repaired by a dealer at the time.
The Type 56 was purchased from arms dealer Mick Ranger
shooting occurred seven miles (11 km) to the west of Hungerford in
Forest in Wiltshire, at 12:30 in the afternoon of August 19. Susan Godfrey, 35, had come to the area
with her children, Hannah, 4, and James, 2 from Reading,
Berkshire and was picnicking when she was abducted by Ryan at
gun-point, and shot thirteen times in the back.
drove in his car, a silver Vauxhall Astra
GTE, from the forest along the A4 towards Hungerford and stopped at a petrol station three miles (5 km) from the
After waiting for a motorcyclist, Ian George, to
depart from the garage, he shot at the cashier, Mrs Kakaub Dean,
and missed. Ryan again tried to shoot her at close range with his
, but the rifle's magazine had
fallen out, probably because he inadvertently hit the release
mechanism. He left the petrol station and continued towards
Whilst Ryan was driving to Hungerford, George, having witnessed the
attempted shooting of Dean, stopped in the village of Froxfield and
placed the first emergency call
At around 12:45, Ryan was seen at his home in South View,
Hungerford. He shot the family dog or dogs (reports differ, one or
two) before turning the gun on his 63-year-old mother, Dorothy
Ellen Ryan. He set fire to the house with the petrol he had bought
earlier in the day, the fire damaging three surrounding properties.
He then removed the three shotguns from his car, possibly because
it would not start. He shot and killed husband and wife Roland and
Sheila Mason, who were in their back garden at their house in South
On foot, Ryan proceeded towards the common
, injuring two more people: Marjorie
Jackson and Lisa Mildenhall (aged 14, shot in both legs.) Jackson
contacted George White, a colleague of her husband, who contacted
her husband Ivor Jackson, who were both later shot, leaving White
dead and Jackson injured. On the footpath towards the common he
also killed Kenneth Clements who was walking with his family.
Returning to Southview, he shot 23 rounds at PC Roger Brereton, a
who had just arrived
at the scene, killing him as he remained sitting in his patrol car.
Linda Chapman and her daughter Alison Chapman were next shot and
injured, having just driven into Southview in a car. Ryan fired 11
bullets from his semi-automatic into their Volvo
; Linda was hit in the shoulder, Alison in the
right thigh. Linda was able to drive to the local doctor's without
further injury, although she crashed into a tree outside. A bullet
was found to be lodged at the base of Alison's spine; during a
subsequent operation to remove it, it was decided that the risk of
paralysis was too great, and it was left in place.
Ryan moved along Fairview Road, killing Abdul Khan, who was in his
back garden, and injuring Alan Lepetit who was walking along the
road. An ambulance
which had just arrived
in the road was next shot at, injuring Hazel Haslett before it
before, 14:30 Ryan had ensconced himself at the John O'Gaunt
Community Technology College (closed and empty at that time of year for summer
holidays), where he had previously been a pupil.
surrounded the building. Negotiators made contact with him; at one
point he waved what appeared to be an unpinned grenade at them
through the window. At 19:00, still in the school, he shot himself.
One of the statements Ryan made towards the end was widely
reported: "I wish I had stayed in bed".
Hungerford is policed by two Sergeants and twelve Constables. On
the morning of 19 August 1987
the duty cover for the section consisted of one
Sergeant, two Patrol Constables and one Station Duty Officer.A
number of factors hampered the police response:
- The telephone exchange could not handle the number of 999 calls made by
- The Thames Valley firearms
squad were training 40 miles away.
- The police helicopter was in for repair, though it was
- Only two phone lines were in operation at the local police
station which was undergoing renovation.
J G Ballard
around the fictitious Richard Greville, a Deputy Psychiatric
Advisor with the Metropolitan
who authored "an unpopular minority report on the
Hungerford killings" and is sent to investigate mass murder in a
gated community. Ballard professed an interest in the Hungerford
massacre and other "pointless crimes" such as that in Dunblane
and the murder of Jill Dando
One Bloody Afternoon
is a vivid non-fiction description of all the events of the
afternoon, describing each killing in detail. It is written by
The Hungerford massacre has inspired Christopher Priest
's 1998 novel The Extremes
, the penultimate track on Radiohead's album
, was written as a
response to the massacre.
Chris Bowsher, founder member of the band Radical Dance Faction
, was a witness
to the events and wrote Hungerford Poem
which appears on
the band's early album Hot On The Wire
Spoof Welsh rap group Goldie
mentioned the killer in their song Guns Don't
Kill People, Rappers Do, a satire on the supposed links between
and gun crime as reported in
the press: 'Like Michael Ryan, about to snap, guns don't kill
people, it's just rap'
mentioned the Hungerford
massacre as background for their fictional mutant
antihero Pete Wisdom
, stating that his mother was one of
were due to release the single
Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before
around the time of
the massacre. However, the song was later prevented from being
released because it contained the line "...and plan a mass murder".
Many felt it would be insensitive to go ahead with the single and
therefore it didn't.
In 1989, The Smiths' former lead singer Morrissey
, who by this point had become a solo
artist, based his song "Michael's Bones"on the incident. It appears
as the B-side to The Last of the
Famous International Playboys
, and as an extra track on the
extended issue of his debut album Viva
- Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 (c. 45) Retrieved
- Jeremy Josephs. Hungerford - One Man's Massacre. Retrieved
- The Hungerford Report - Shooting Incidents At Hungerford
On 19 August
1987, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police Colin Smith to Home
Secretary Douglas Hurd. Retrieved 24 August, 2007.
- Courtroom Television Network (2005). Michael Ryan - The Hungerford UK Mass Murderer.
- How I Survived the Hungerford Massacre - Sky The Magazine -
- - Courtroom Television Network (2005). Michael Ryan - The Hungerford UK Mass Murderer.
- The Hungerford Report - Shooting Incidents At Hungerford
On 19 August 1987, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police Colin
Smith to Home Secretary Douglas Hurd. Retrieved 24 August, 2007.
- - Cultural Studies, edited by Lawrence Grossberg, Cary
Nelson, Paula Treichler (1991), p220. Google Print. ISBN
0-415-90345-9 (accessed October 28, 2005). Also available in print
from Routledge (UK).
- - Mac Randall (September 1, 2004). Exit Music: The Radiohead Story, 119. Google
Print. ISBN 1-84449-183-8 (accessed October 28, 2005). Also
available in print from Omnibus Press.