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Dead gunman 'in battle over child'

A gunman who shot himself dead after an overnight stand-off with police may have been locked in a battle to get access to his child.

The dead man, named locally as Idi Atiba, 31, suffered fatal injuries when he blasted a sawn-off shotgun into his chest.

The shot came after police worked through the night on Leagrave Common in Luton, Bedfordshire, to persuade him to give himself up.

Friends of Mr Atiba said the confrontation began after an argument with his former girlfriend, who lives in a block beside the parkland.

One woman, whose garden backs on to the park, told a national newspaper the gunman said to police that she would not let him see his child. She said: "He was telling officers he won't budge and was prepared to stay there for the next two days."

The stand-off began after police responded to a 999 call claiming a gunman was walking around the Marsh Farm Estate, scene of several riots in the 1990s.

They traced Mr Atiba to Leagrave Common at about 8.30pm and brought in up to 20 officers including dog handlers and specialist negotiators. Pictures of the scene showed police marksmen huddled behind a bullet-proof shield with Mr Atiba standing a short distance away.

The stand-off ended in tragedy shortly before midday on Monday as the gunman approached a mobile phone thrown to him by police. Witnesses said he stood up and walked towards it as police shouted to him to keep the gun down before sitting down again and pulling the trigger.

Armed police and paramedics rushed to his side but he died several hours later before he could be taken to hospital by air ambulance.

A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said: "The incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Bedfordshire Police are co-operating fully."

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