Police are being investigated after they returned killer Jake Davison's shotgun to him weeks before he used it to murder five including a three-year-old girl and his mother in a shooting in Plymouth.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had called for the issue of how Davison came to legally own a gun to be "properly investigated" and described the shooting as an "absolutely appalling" incident.
On Friday the police watchdog announced it had opened a probe into Devon and Cornwall Police's decision-making in relation to the 22-year-old maniac's possession of a shotgun and a certificate for the weapon.
The scaffolder who was obsessed with being an "ugly virgin" shot and killed his 51-year-old mother Maxine Davison, also known as Maxine Chapman, at a house in Biddick Drive in the Keyham area of Plymouth on Thursday evening.
He then went outside into the street and shot dead Sophie Martyn, aged three, and her father Lee Martyn, aged 43, in an attack witnessed by horrified onlookers.
Davison killed Stephen Washington, 59, in a nearby park, before shooting Kate Shepherd, 66, on Henderson Place. She later died at Derriford Hospital.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has said it is looking into how Davison acquired a shotgun and a shotgun licence.
It said on Friday evening the investigation follows a mandatory referral from Devon and Cornwall Police which contains preliminary information that his firearm and licence were returned to him in early July this year.
Toddler, 3, gunned down in Plymouth shooting pictured with dad who died next to her
The certificate and shotgun had been removed from him by police in December 2020 following an allegation of assault in September 2020, the watchdog said.
IOPC regional director David Ford said: "We can confirm that this morning we received a mandatory referral from Devon and Cornwall Police relating to yesterday's tragic events in Plymouth in which six people lost their lives.
"Our thoughts remain with all of the many people who will be severely affected. The referral related to yesterday's events as well as police contact with Jake Davison prior to the incident, including the force's role and actions regarding firearms licensing.
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"After assessment of the referral we have determined we will carry out an independent investigation focusing on Jake Davison's firearms licensing history and its impact on the tragic events of Thursday, August 12.
"We will examine what police actions were taken and when, the rationale behind police decision-making, and whether relevant law, policy and procedures were followed concerning Mr Davison's possession of a shotgun.
"The investigation will also consider whether the force had any information concerning Mr Davison's mental health and if so if this information was appropriately considered."
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Mr Ford said that no investigation will take place into the force's response to the shootings.
He added: "However, the investigation will explore whether there was any causal link between the arrival of police and Mr Davison apparently shooting himself."
Devon and Cornwall Police said on Friday night that all of those who died lived locally in the Keyham area.
Davison also aimed and shot at two local residents – a man aged 33 and a 53-year-old woman – who are known to each other in Biddick Drive.
They suffered significant injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
A police spokesman said the firearm believed to have been used during the atrocity was legally held by Davison, who had a firearms licence.
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