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Video: Van passenger fires pistol at cyclists in Essex

Weapon is believed to be an airsoft gun – but police closed case due to lack of evidence

A reader has shared footage showing the moment a passenger in a van fired a weapon – possibly an airsoft pistol, colloquially known as a BB gun – at him and two friends he was cycling with in Essex. The video was submitted to police, but after an initial investigation officers closed the case due to insufficient evidence.

The incident happened near Orsett, near Grays, at 10.12am on 18 April as the three cyclists, all of whom wish to remain anonymous, were “out for a chilled 50-kilometre ride.”

On the video, the van passenger’s left hand is outside the window of the vehicle, pointing an object at the riders.  

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One of them told “At the time we were riding along chatting, saw someone hanging out of the van and heard a loud crack, realised it was someone shooting a pistol.

“It was a single shot, being blue we think it might have been an airsoft gun but will never know.

“Oddly the guy on the front missed it all, he turned to say something to me and hadn’t even realised anything had happened.

“At the time we did not get the vehicle registration so did not call 999. I reviewed video footage when home and as it clearly showed the incident and the vehicle registration so I reported to the Essex Police via webform on the evening of 18 April (as phone systems were down).

“On the afternoon of 19 April I received a boiler plate ‘victims letter’ noting the offence was classified as ‘Assault without Injury’.

“On the morning of 20 April I challenged this classification via email and received a call back from Essex Police, which did not clear up the question entirely. They  confirmed I could not send in the video via email as it would be too large for them to receive.

“On the morning of 21 April I emailed in screenshots of the video,” he continued. “On Friday 23 April I received a text message saying a PC was investigating and would be in contact.”

The investigating officer visited the cyclist at home on the morning of Tuesday 27 April. “He said I did not need to give them a copy but to retain it for 12 months.”

That afternoon, police sent him a text message in which the officer told him that “images will be sent via our internal system of the suspect to try [and] identify him. The address registered to the vehicle has been attended, the owner of the vehicle has denied the incident occurred and has not told me any passenger names that he had in the vehicle, so at present I am unable to ID the person responsible. The matter will be filed pending the suspect being ID’d or further evidence.”

He replied to the text message the same afternoon, “challenging the lack of action and requested a senior officer reviews the investigation. I did ask in my response if the police have concluded and therefore if I can take this to the press.

“A couple of days later the PC called me.  Neither he nor his sergeant can explain it being recorded as assault.  The investigation had come to a dead end and there was nothing else they could do without further evidence,” he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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