HERO PC Carl Jones has described the moment he thought he was going to die when a domestic violence suspect suddenly pulled a gun from beneath a sofa cushion and fired at him three times.
The Swindon constable and partner PC Sandra Higgins-Hughes have been have been nominated along with a host of other officers across the country for a Police Bravery Award by the Police Federation, with the honours handed out at a special ceremony in London tomorrow.
The pair told how they responded to what they thought was a routine domestic incident in William Street, Swindon, but as they attempted to make the arrest the assailant, 22-year-old Ricky Bird, turned on them.
Bird, who was jailed for three and a half years following the incident, denied assaulting his girlfriend, pulled the illegal air pistol on PC Jones and fired before the officer used his pava spray and PC Higgins-Hughes called for back-up.
PC Jones, also a reservist for the Royal Air Force, said: “When we arrived the woman alleged the man had tried to strangle her and had punched her in the face.
“With the force’s positive action policy we were obliged to arrest him. We found two men in the lounge, both of whom were drunk and continued to play a video game while we tried to talk to them.
“At first he was fine but then he seemed to turn and said he was not coming without a fight. I drew my pava spray and said he didn’t need to resist. That’s when he drew the gun from behind a cushion and pointed it at me before firing three times.
“It looked very realistic and there was a very loud ‘bang, bang, bang’ – I honestly thought I was going to die. He must have missed and I didn’t feel anything in that moment. My only thought was to try and restrain him, which after a bit of a scuffle with his friend and him, I eventually managed to do.
“I did take some time out after that and went to Afghanistan for three-and-a- half months with the RAF as a mover in Camp Bastion.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed by the nomination and it is very nice to be recognised for the job we do.
“I’m enormously proud of my actions that day and there are other officers up and down the country who deal with those situations regularly.”
PC Higgins-Hughes, now a neighbourhood officer in Highworth, said: “It’s very nice to get recognised and it was one of those situations you can never prepare for.
“When he drew the gun I thought that was it for both of us, that Carl would be shot and so would I, and so I didn’t want any of our colleagues to come in unaware.
“It was all a bit of a blur but I remember having the gun in my hand and taking it out of the house.”
Kate Pain, chairman of the Wiltshire branch of the Police Federation, said: “The officers showed astounding bravery and put the safety of others before their own.
“It later became clear that the weapon involved was an imitation firearm, but one of our firearms experts said anyone facing such a weapon would believe it to be genuine and that it had the potential to cause death or serious injury.”