In a bizarre and horrifyingly tragic episode, a London police officer was shot and killed during the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning by a criminal in what appears to be the first killing of a police officer in the UK since a London terror attack back in 2017.

Since guns are largely illegal to own in the UK, police officers are typically armed with nightsticks. But somehow, a 23-year-old criminal being detained at Croydon Custody Center in south London apparently managed to get his hands on a gun, and shoot an officer. The name of the officer has not yet been released.

London has been hammered by a wave of stabbings in recent years, something Mayor Sadiq Khan has sought to play down. But shootings are so rare, that investigators are taking extreme caution in releasing information to the public. Details about the incident are unclear. Police only said that the suspect didn’t commit the shooting with a police weapon, but it’s unclear where the gun came from, and how it ended up in the suspect’s possession while he was in custody.

Fellow officers and paramedics treated the officer at the scene, according to a police statement. However, he later died of his injuries at the hospital. Police chiefs from across the UK sent tributes to the fallen officer, and PM Boris Johnson took a brief break from the ongoign COVID-19 emergency to deliver a statement.

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country owed a “huge debt” to police officers who risk their lives to keep the community safe, and offered “my deepest condolences…to the family, friends and colleagues of the police officer who was killed in Croydon last night.”

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was “shocked and saddened” by news of the shooting, while Mayor Khan said he was “devastated” to learn of the loss.

Met commissioner Cressida Dick said the shooting was “truly shocking” and “most tragic”. She added in a statement: “My heart goes out to his family, direct colleagues and friends. We are currently supporting his family and also have a dedicated team providing support to the officers and those in the custody center who witnessed the shooting.”

Via Zerohedge