A 999 call came in just after 6am on Sunday morning from a woman who reported she had just seen two men, one with what appeared to be an AK-47 rifle, threatening to kill her.
Within minutes, armed police officers from Bedfordshire surrounded the block of flats where the suspects had already barricaded themselves in the flat.
A robber pointed a huge rifle at officers as they raided a flat in BedfordshireCredit: SWNS
Channel 4 followed the police as they completed the terrifying raid Credit: Channel 4
Suddenly, one of the men appears with a gun and shoots the unarmed policeman.
Now these terrifying events have been revealed in the latest episode of the hard-hitting documentary 24 Hours in Police Custody, which returns to Channel 4 this Sunday.
It features unprecedented access to an operational suite during a 14-hour live siege – triggered by a cold takeaway – in which a delivery driver is taken hostage.
The call fee for the raid was a staggering £85,000.
Chief Superintendent Steve Ashdown, who was in charge of the operation, said: “I’ve been a firearms commander now for almost 10 years, and it’s the first one I’ve been involved in like that… It was a very unusual trigger, that’s fair to say.”
Steve, 55, who joined the force in 1996, was on duty on the day of the major incident last November and was due to go shopping with his wife.
He says, “When you get that call, you have to give up everything.”
It was quickly categorized as a major incident and intelligence is coming in that the two suspects are believed to be Paul Burton, 45, and Nathan Turner, 37, who live in flats in Bury Court on the outskirts of Bedford.
Delivery driver held hostage
The men claimed that the takeaway driver brought them a kebab that was cold and without salad Credit: Channel 4
A video of Burton live streaming on Facebook has emerged, complaining to police that his takeaway driver “failed to do his job” and that his kebab was late – and missing a salad.
The incident started around 3am on November 27 last year.
The men, who were both drinking and taking drugs, confronted the delivery driver when he reached the eighth floor of the flats, placing a coffee table over the lift door to trap him inside.
They held him captive for two hours.
The neighbor reveals how she went to complain about the loud music they were playing before Burton threatened her with a black rifle.
He also warned the officers: “You even try to come through my fucking door. I’ll kill your cops in no time.”
As well as body camera footage of officers on the scene, the cameras follow Steve as he commands the operation.
He says: “We train regularly. It takes a lot of effort to maintain your skills.
“You’re trying to take in a lot of information that’s starting to present itself to the Operations Center, trying to gauge what it all means and how to bring it to a calm conclusion, which means you have to be alert.”
Both suffered from mental problems. Reflecting on their extreme reaction to the late seizure, Steve says, “When you combine the mental health and other things that were going on at the time with those two suspects, it seems to be the last straw.”
‘A deadly weapon
The men threatened the officers with weapons Credit: Channel 4
The gun was found to be potentially lethal Credit: Channel 4
CCTV footage also shows that the weapon was professionally planted and could be deadly.
Steve makes the decision to secure the block and evacuate the residents. A negotiator was also deployed to the scene to try to speak with the couple.
Steve says, “I was in a two-way dialogue with the negotiator. They tell me what’s going on from their perspective. There were one or two moments where she could gain their trust.
“The negotiators are very well trained. I admire the work they do.”
But the situation escalates when at 8:45 a.m. Burton shoots at the windshield of a police car, narrowly avoiding the dog’s handler who feared for his life.
Steve says: “Ultimately, I was responsible for everything that happened on the field. First, my immediate thought was for the policeman: ‘Is he OK? Is he safe? Is he hurt?’
“But once I got that assurance, I had to make sure that any risk was reduced, not increased.”
An apartment full of pythons
A bullet hole left in the windscreen of a police car when one of the suspects shot at an unarmed officer Credit: Channel 4
The robbers live-streamed the raid on Facebook as officers raided their flat Credit: Channel 4
Steve places an armed officer with a “long barrel weapon” in position to fire if necessary.
He explains: “It was more of a case than a tactic that we would use.”
There are reports that both men are suffering from mental health problems.
After a tense standoff, the couple eventually left the apartment and surrendered shortly before 6 p.m.
The police officers found the weapon, which had been modified, in the wardrobe. There were also several pythons and other reptiles in the apartment, which were later rehomed.
The fee to get the extra services involved totaled £85,000 and included the use of drone equipment, which Steve says is “a pretty effective way of looking at what’s going on” while minimizing any risk to officers.
He adds: “It was a lot of money from the public purse. That cost was shared by the police, our partners in the fire service and the local council in terms of a real financial commitment.”
Although it was an “additional burden”, he believes that it was justified when “weighed against a safe and successful solution”.
Burton was later jailed for seven years after pleading guilty to attempted grievous bodily harm and two counts of possessing a firearm without a certificate.
Turner admitted fraud and four counts of criminal damage, and was sentenced to 20 months.
Steve says of the tense siege: “As with any firearms incident, there is a sense of achievement and relief after a successful resolution.
“All residents were protected and no police officers were injured, which, unfortunately, is not always a guarantee for police officers. There was a sense of professional pride.”
24 Hours in Police Custody is available to watch or stream on Channel 4 on Sunday 3 December at 9pm.
Chief Steve Ashdown was in charge of the operation Credit: Channel 4
The men ordered a takeaway in a block of flats Credit: Channel 4