Man held in care home shooting probe believed to be woman's husband


A man arrested on suspicion of shooting dead an 81-year-old woman in a care home is believed to be her husband.

Rita King was declared dead at De La Mer House in Naze Park Road, Walton-on-the-Naze, just three days after Christmas.

The alleged attacker was Mrs King's 86-year-old husband Ronald, according to reports.

Essex police confirmed the gunman and Mrs King were related and that he had been staying at the care home.

The manager at De La Mer told how she persuaded the armed man to hand over the weapon.

Julie Curtis, who has run the home for two years, said she saw the man walking towards her holding a gun.

She put her arm around the man, who had reportedly been staying for one week over the Christmas period, and pleaded for him to drop the weapon.

She told the Press Association: "I put my left arm around him and put his right arm between him and the gun and said, 'Please, please give me the gun', and he let go."

Mrs Curtis said at first she had not realised the gun was real or if anybody had been injured.

"He came towards me with the gun, my first thought was that it wasn't real, but then my next thought was trying to stop him hurting my residents," she said.

No other people were near the incident, Mrs Curtis said, adding staff had dealt with the situation "brilliantly".

She said: "It's a shock - I cannot believe it happened at a residential care home.

"Our staff have been brilliant, staying calm and speaking to the residents who live here. Under the circumstances, everyone is coping very well."

A revolver was recovered from the scene, murder detectives said.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Werrett, who is leading the investigation, said: "At this stage we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the investigation and our inquiries are ongoing."

Douglas Carswell, the Ukip MP for the area, said he was "very shocked" by the news, adding that Walton-on-the-Naze was usually a peaceful place.

Mr Carswell said he knew De La Mer House well and it had recently been renovated.

He said: "I know the care home well, I have been several times. I know the staff are very good people and they must be fairly shocked by this."

Nearby resident John Knights described tight security at De La Mer.

The retired financial adviser, whose wife Marlene runs the Bucket and Spade guest house a short distance from De La Mer House, said: "My mother had to go into De La Mer about two years ago and I can tell you that it was quite tricky to get in and out of there.

"Security was tight. You couldn't just go up to the building and get in.

"You needed a security code to get in. It had electronic key pads on the door, so to get inside you needed to know those.

"Whoever was responsible must have known the code."