AN armed police officer thought he was going to die as he was confronted by a gunman pointing a handgun at him, a court heard, PA reporter Rod Minchin writes.

The officer shot Reed Wischhusen, 32, three times as he rushed towards him with the firearm held aloft.

Police officers had gone to Wischhusen’s dirty and smelly house that he shared with his father in Wick St Lawrence, north Somerset, in November last year following reports about him converting blank firearms.

Four officers – two neighbour officers and two armed officers – carried out a brief examination of the semi-detached property, which was cluttered, dirty and smelled of urine, and found several weapons, as well as body armour and a deactivated hand grenade.

The two firearms officers, known only as P3 and L4, decided a comprehensive search was needed and the Lidl warehouse worker would be arrested.

Bristol Crown Court heard the defendant then asked to go to the toilet and rushed upstairs.

As P3 tried to follow him up the stairs a shot rang out from the bathroom, the jury was told.

L4, who had remained downstairs with the other two officers, told the jury: “After a short while I heard a loud bang, a loud noise.

“It sounded like a gunshot or an explosion, not like a firework or anything like that.

“P3 immediately ran back downstairs with the words of ‘withdraw’.

“In my mind I did a risk assessment very quickly and I withdrew my handgun and covered the stairs where I perceived the threat to be.

“It was really quick, and I was concerned I didn’t know where Reed was. There was also a degree of concern that I didn’t know what had happened to him.

“I shouted for him to come to the top of the stairs. After a short amount of time – it was so quick – he came to the top of the stairs as I shouted for him to do.

“He had handgun and pointed directly at me.”

Jonathan Rees KC, prosecuting, asked: “What did you think at that point?”

Pausing and sounding emotional, the officer replied: “I thought I was going to die. I can recall saying things like, ‘Drop the gun, put the gun down, armed police’.”

Mr Rees asked: “Did he do that?”

L4 replied: “No. He rushed downstairs towards me.”

Mr Rees asked: “As he rushed downstairs towards you, where was his gun?”

The officer replied: “Pointed directly towards me. In the process it was all so quick. I started to move away, and I fired two shots.

“It happened so quickly. I withdrew towards the door at the same time. I fired a further shot and then he dropped to the ground.

“It happened so quickly he was already at the bottom of the stairs.”

Mr Rees asked: “Why did you fire a third shot?”

He replied: “Because he was still coming towards me, and he was still there with the handgun pointed at me.”

A neighbourhood officer, known as N8, said he felt “extremely vulnerable” after hearing the first shot because he was only carrying Parva incapacitant spray.

Asked how he felt, he told the jury: “It was a bit surreal to be honest. We expect risk in our job, and we obviously took precautions by having armed officers with us.

“As they stepped back in to the address, I didn’t know if they were going to come out or he was going to come out. It was a difficult moment.

“P3 and L4 started to shout, ‘Put the gun down, put the gun down’ and then there were gunshots.

“As the gunshots stopped, I couldn’t hear any of them and I didn’t know if they had been shot or he had been shot.

“I stepped into the house and could see that they were restraining him, and he had been clearly shot.

“He was screaming and shouting, and I could see the wound to his chest.”

N8 said the two armed officers needed to remove the defendant’s jacket to assess his injuries and when they released his handcuffs he tried to grab the converted Turkish pistol with his right arm.

“His arm went out and he was looking at it and it looked to me that he was trying to grab that pistol,” he said.

“As soon as we got the jacket off, he was restrained again.”

The officer said Wischhusen was shouting repeatedly: “I want to die.”

The jury has previously been told Wischhusen was fascinated with mass shootings and infamous killers such as Dunblane gunman Thomas Hamilton and Raoul Moat.

It is alleged he had drawn up plans to carry out a “hitman-style attack” on his former school in what he dubbed “revenge” but he claims this was “fantasy”.

Jurors heard phase one of Wischhusen’s alleged revenge plan was to kill 10 people using a converted pistol with a silencer while wearing disguised clothing and a wig.

Wischhusen, of Wick Road, Wick St Lawrence, denies charges of having an explosive substance with intent to endanger life, having an explosive substance, possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, possessing ammunition with intent to endanger life and possessing a prohibited firearm without a certificate.

The trial continues.