World's Most Evil Killers: Hungerford Shooter wished 'he'd stayed in bed' after massacring 16 people including his mother

Michael Ryan's killing spree in 1987 resulted in sixteen fatalities, with 15 others seriously injuried 


                            World's Most Evil Killers: Hungerford Shooter wished 'he'd stayed in bed' after massacring 16 people including his mother
Distraught relatives leave the parish church of St Lawrence in Hungerford following the massacre by Michael Ryan (Getty Images)

"Hungerford must be a bit of a mess. I wish I had stayed in bed on the morning." These were among 27-year-old Michael Ryan's last statements made on 19 August 1987, one of the deadliest days in Britain's history concerning firearm incidents. Ryan, an unemployed laborer and an antique dealer, was walking in Hungerford, Berkshire, on a summer afternoon when he targeted his first victim - a mother of two children in Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, at 12:30 pm. Ryan, who was heavily armed, forced 33-year-old Susan Godfrey, who was on a picnic with her children, to put them in her car and walk back to him. He then shot her 15 times in the back and left. Godfrey died at the spot.

The 27-year-old was heavily armed including an AK-47 rifle and a Beretta pistol, all licensed. Ryan then drove in his Vauxhall Astra car and made a stop at a petrol station three miles away from the town of Hungerford. After he filled petrol, he shot at the cashier, Kakoub Dean, but missed. He attempted to shoot at her again at close range but his weapon was empty. Ryan, without killing his second target, left the petrol station and headed towards the town. That is when Dean made the first emergency call to the police about an attempted robbery. 

Ryan was next seen at his home in South View at nearly 12:45 pm. Reports state that after reaching home he shot his family dog, and then set the house ablaze with the recently-bought petrol. The fire affected three adjacent properties in the area. The 27-year-old then attempted to drive away but the car wouldn't move; he then fired three shots at the right side of his car. He then got out and shot two people, Roland and Sheila Mason, in the backyard of their house. The couple succumbed to their bullet wounds. 

Ryan then proceeded towards the town common and randomly fired shots at two more people - Marjorie Jackson and Lisa Mildenhall. They got shot in their legs, but survived the injuries. Jackson immediately alerted one George White, a colleague of her husband Ivor Jackson. Both White and Jackson reported to the scene and were shot by Ryan. White died while Jackson sustained injuries. Ryan, while walking on the footpath towards the common, shot and killed Kenneth Clements who was also walking there with his family.

After his walk, he returned to Southview, where he fired at least 23 shots at a police officer who had just arrived at the scene. PC Roger Brereton died while sitting in his police car. A mother-daughter duo was just driving into Southview in their Volvo when Ryan shot at them too. He fired 11 bullets, striking Linda in the shoulder and Alison in her right thigh. Linda continued to drive despite her injuries until she reached a hospital; her daughter's injury left her permanently disabled. 

Ryan continued the carnage as he moved along Fairview Road - he shot and killed a man in his back garden, Abdur Khan, and injured another who was walking along the road, Alan Lepetit. The 27-year-old then spotted an ambulance arriving at the road and shot at it. The bullet struck paramedic Hezel Haslett in the ambulance before it drove off. When Ryan's mother drove into South View and saw her burning house, she was aghast; she then noted her armed son and injured people along the street. When she opened her car and attempted to reason with her son, he shot her in the abdomen and legs, and two shots in the back as she lay on the ground. Dorothy succumbed to her injuries. He shot several more people along the way. 

Nearly two hours after being on a killing spree, Ryan eventually reached the school he studied at, John O'Gaunt Secondary School, which was empty at the time because of the summer holidays. By then authorities had surrounded the building. He fired shots at the circling helicopter but eventually gave way and shot himself dead. One of the last statements he made was: "Hungerford must be a bit of a mess. I wish I had stayed in bed on the morning." Ryan's killing spree resulted in sixteen fatalities and 15 others were seriously injuried. 

No motive was ever established in the case and the only person who knew Ryan well enough to give an insight into him -- his mother Dorothy -- was also killed in the massacre. Psychologists have since speculated on the mass murderer's mental health, with some claiming he must have been schizophrenic and psychotic. The massacre eventually resulted in the country's Firearms (Amendment) Act, 1988, which banned ownership of semi-automatic center-fire rifles and restricted the use of other firearms with a capacity of only two rounds.

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