Reports of gun related crime incidents are becoming common place in the newspapers and televisions within many regions of the UK. However, you do normally only tend to see the more high profile cases or those that the Police decide to issue a press release for.
There are many reasons behind gun crime and these vary slightly depending on the geographical location in which they occur. Some of the most common reasons are gang members enforcing respect for its members or families and protecting territory. Gangs and criminals (not mutually exclusive!) often use firearms to secure venture capital.
I often come to work and read the previous night's briefing pages and there's usually at least one incident that involved masked offenders using firearms in some form of violent crime. It doesn't shock me as much as I thought it would.
I used to work for a different police force before I became a CSI, in a different role, and I can't remember the last firearms incident that took place there and they are only separated by one other County
I arrived at work for 0640 hours and there were a number of cars already in the car park. This meant one of two things; either everyone else was super keen and early like me, or, more likely there had been a serious incident and they had been called out.
It was the latter.
Two CSIs had been called out through the night and had dealt with the initial examination of a shooting scene.
About a mile away from the station was a nightclub. It's primarily used for private functions such as birthday parties or wedding receptions. We're not in the City but only a few miles from it, but I wouldn't have either my birthday party or wedding reception at this club.
Most of the CSIs were busying themselves at their desks with various tasks, most related to the scene we were holding at the nightclub. There were two CSIs preparing to attend the location and continue the examination, CSI Woman who came to the Suicide incident with me being one of them. She asked if I'd like to help them at the scene as there was a lot to do.
I couldn't have answered quicker!
We got some equipment together, including handfuls of evidence bags, swabs, water viles and some white suits. The two CSIs who had attended through the night had conducted the initial examination, which included some photographs of the scene. fingerprinting of key areas and swabs of blood.
A Police Officer had been posted outside all night. The Officer is likely to be relieved every three or four hours, depending on how many Officers are on duty. The main role of the Officer is to protect the scene. There will be tape indicating the inner and outer corden. No one should pass either tape unless there is reason to. The Officer will also control the scene log. Anyone who enters or leaves the scene will have to give their name and collar number to the Officer who will record it in the log.
It turns out one offender shot himself in the leg and the other was injured during the shooting, so by the time we were ready to attend the scene, CID had already made enquiries to identify the two offenders from the incident. The presence of some good quality CCTV went a long way. One was in hospital and the other was in hiding. The officers began a manhunt for the second offender and it turned out he was wanted for similar offences a few months back.
There was a private function at the club during the night/morning and some unwanted guests turned up with one thing on their mind. Trouble.
It was our task to collect the evidence to show the offender's involvement and to identify any other people at the scene who were key witnesses or possible offenders. The club had been a haven for a number of known criminals that night, idents were going to come easily.
When you know you are going to be at a scene for some time (and we knew this meant days in this case), it's helpful to find a sterile area where you can set up kit and store evidence that is collected. There was an unused room where we left our cases and large supply of bags and swabs.
I brought a case with various Crimelites with me. The Crimelite is a specially designed light source for use at crime scenes. The Crimelites are a high intensity LED light source which are available in violet, blue, blue-green and green as well as a white light for general examination. Each CSI has a personal issue White Crimelite for examinations of any scene. The varying colours and bandwiths are useful for detecting evidence such as blood, latent marks and other evidence by providing contrast using coloured lights and filters. Goggles are worn to protect the eyes. It's not quite CSI: Miami with the orange goggles and UV light but along the same lines!
I used the light to detect blood and bodily fluids and you'd be amazed at what I discovered on some of the seats- I wish I could take one of these everywhere I go, thought I'm pretty sure I'd never want so sit down anywhere!
There was the smell of stale blood in the air. There was blood in the doorway and in the porch area, there was also a lot of blood in a seating area where first aid had been administered and where an Ambulance crew had treated one of the offenders.
I was asked to conduct a search for the bullet casing that was still outstanding. I looked for a couple of hours. I conducted a fingertip search of the whole place from one end to the other and was frustrated that I hadn't found it. After I'd finished, a CID officer stopped by to inform me that one of the weapons was believed to be a revolver- revolvers retain the casing. I wish he'd told me that a few hours before, but at least a thorough search had been conducted of the premises.
I'm keen to ensure this post isn't too long as I know it can be tedious to read and read.
The next few days I spent at this scene. It was easy to loose track of time inside as there were no windows and only the three of us there, often in seperate parts of the club. I used Magneta flake powder, a metal flake based powder and a magnet applicator wand to recover footwear impressions on a tiled area around the bar. I even recovered a complete footprint, where someone had obviously been bare footed. Not something you find at every crime scene.
I'll talk more about recovery of blood samples in a dedicated future post.