Armed police say they killed a man inside his car on the M5 after reports he threatened to shoot another driver

The scene shortly after the shooting, adapted from footage broadcast by Sky News.

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The scene shortly after the shooting, adapted from footage broadcast by Sky News.
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Sky News/Business Insider.

Armed police have offered the first explanation for a dramatic operation in which they shot dead a man inside his car on the M5 motorway, in south-west Britain.

Officers from Avon and Somerset police opened fire on a red Suzuki Swift at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning not far from the city of Bristol, and he was declared dead shortly afterwards.

In a statement, the police force said it acted because “we received calls from concerned members of the public travelling on the M5 who reported they had seen a man in a car with a handgun.”

A nearby police force said that they first received warnings about the drive when he was 50 miles north of the point where he was eventually shot, on a major road in Portishead, Somerset, which feeds traffic to the M5.

Witness Dave Ellison described the scene, telling BBC Radio Bristol: “They surrounded it. They shot maybe five, six or ten times. Then they dragged a man from the car to resuscitate him. It came off the roundabout towards Portishead and then was boxed in by cars.”

Images broadcast by Sky News, and annotated by Business Insider, show six bullet holes in the car, which had a black handgun on its roof.

The suspect's Suzuki Swift.

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The suspect’s Suzuki Swift.
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Sky News/Business Insider

More detail on the shooting was offered by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which investigates all police activity that ends in death or serious injury.

A statement issued on Wednesday night said: “We have been advised that officers were responding to reports of a man travelling on the M5 with a handgun and that he had threatened another motorist.”

The IPCC will take testimony from officers involved and examine other evidence, including CCTV footage.

The statement added: “What appears to be a non-police issue firearm was found at the scene and will also be subject to examination.”

Later on Thursday, West Mercia Police said they were aware of the driver an hour before he was shot.

A statement emailed to Business Insider they said: “At 8.30am yesterday (Wednesday 27 September) we received a report of a man in a vehicle pointing a gun at another motorist near to Junction 8 of the M5.”

Junction 8 is near the village of Strensham in Worcestershire, 50 miles north of Portishead on the M5. This map shows the route down the M5 the man almost certainly took before his encounter with police:

Portishead shooting map

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Google Maps/Business Insider

According that route, he would have left the territory of West Mercia Police and passed through that of Gloucestershire Police Constabulary before reaching an area policed by Avon and Somerset Police, whose officers shot him.

The man who was killed has not yet been named. His body was covered with a white cloth shortly after he was taken out of the car. His body is due to undergo a post-mortem examination on Thursday.