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Life sentence for man who plotted mass shootings at school and police headquarters

A custody photo of Reed Wischhusen
Reed Wischhusen
There are 2 related updates to this story

A man who planned to carry out a series of mass shootings disguised as a police officer has received a life sentence.

Reed Wischhusen built himself an armoury of explosive substances, firearms and ammunition and had written a document in which he outlined his plans to kill.

The 32-year-old planned to murder 10 named people he felt had wronged him before carrying out attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and a sub machine gun at his former school and Avon and Somerset Police Headquarters in Portishead.

Detectives who led the investigation liaised with Counter Terrorism Policing South West but neither the incident at his home, or his plans to kill, were treated as terrorism.

Wischhusen spent four months in hospital before he was charged with eight firearms and explosive offences.

A jury subsequently found him guilty on all counts following a two-week trial at Bristol Crown Court in October.

Wischhusen’s plans came to light after he was shot by armed officers when he pointed a gun at them at his home in Wick St Lawrence, near Weston-super-Mare, on 28 November 2022.

During his trial, the court heard how officers subsequently saved Wischhusen’s life by immediately providing him with first aid.

A vintage lathe was subsequently found in an outhouse which he had used to convert multiple firearms and, using instructions found online, partially build himself a sub machine gun. 

In addition, multiple items of police uniform including body armour and several fabric Avon and Somerset Police badges were found inside the house.

Sentencing Wischhusen at Bristol Crown Court today (Friday 12 January), Judge Martin Picton described him as a ‘dangerous individual’ who’s actions ‘put the lives of all those concerned at risk’ and deemed him a ‘danger to society’.

He said: “The events on 28 November 2022 are shocking. I have watched and rewatched the day police officers attended your house.

“There was a stage when the officers were dealing with you when you can be seen trying to get your hand on the loaded firearm in the pocket of your work coat.

“You had been wearing the same coat since 5 November in public, knowing you were carrying a loaded firearm in the pocket and the danger that you posed to society.”

The judge also praised the actions of the officers who attended his address in November 2022 and the officers involved in the investigation.

He awarded Crown Court Commendations to the four officers who attended and the officer in the case.

Judge Picton, speaking to Wischhusen, said: “It was the very brave actions the police officers took which saved your life on 28 November. The impact of this incident can be heard in their victim impact statements.

“We expect so much of our emergency services. They deal with a great deal and their commitment is shown, even when it often comes at a great cost to themselves.

“The officers dealt with what was a truly traumatic event. They conducted themselves with selfless bravery and the defendant owes them his life.”

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Dewfall, of the Major Crime Investigation Team said: “Reed Wischhusen is an extremely dangerous man.

“He claimed his plans were fantasy but our investigation proved he was working towards acting on them. He had explosive substances and firearms capable of causing lethal harm while chillingly, he also had Avon and Somerset Police uniform. 

“The jury recognised the threat he poses and the public are now much safer with him behind bars for what is a very substantial amount of time.”

He added: “Incidents of this nature are thankfully few and far between, but when they do happen our officers are ready to respond to them.

“The Crown Court Commendations bestowed upon the officers who attended Wischhusen’s home are recognition of their bravery and skill and above all their ability to protect the public.

“The commendations are given to the officers who investigated Wischhusen, who wanted to carry out an attack at police headquarters and kill officers and police staff, is recognition of their professionalism and they should be proud their work will keep people safe.”

Andrew Pritchard, Specialist Prosecutor for CPS South West, said: “It is clear Wischhusen took a macabre interest in mass shootings and, had he not been stopped, had the means to enact a deadly plan with terrible consequences.

“His intention was to send a brutal and violent message to those he felt had wronged him throughout his life; from school bullies, to police officers who had refused him firearms licences, to his bosses at work. 

“During the trial, he attempted to paint the picture that he was a tinkerer with a vague interest in weapons and explosives. This picture was rejected by the jury and I would like to take the opportunity to thank the prosecution team for their efforts in unpicking Wischhusen’s account. Through their tireless work, a dangerous individual no longer poses a risk to those he held a grudge against, and the wider public.”