Croydon police shooting suspect was ‘good with weapons’


Louis De Zoysa photographed during his days as a schoolboy

The man accused of shooting dead a sergeant in a police station was described by his friends as a ‘maths geek’ who was ‘good with weapons’ in his school yearbook, with fellow pupils claiming he ‘could have gone to Oxbridge’.

Louis De Zoysa, 23, is suspected of fatally wounding Sergeant Matiu Ratana, 54, after smuggling a revolver into a custody area in Croydon, South London, last Friday.

His yearbook entry featured a picture of him in school uniform with one friend saying he was ‘very clever’ and another adding: ‘One day we will rule the world together’.

The photograph was taken when De Zoysa was aged 16 and in year 11 at John Fisher School, a 1,000-pupil Roman Catholic boys’ comprehensive in Purley, South London.

Peter Wright, who attended John Fisher school at the same time as De Soyza said: ‘He was one of the cleverest kids in the year who was tipped to go to Oxford or one of the country’s other top universities.

‘He was brilliant at maths and at the sciences and we all thought that he’d go really far in life. Louis was a quiet kid who wasn’t really part of a crowd but he was super bright.’

Anton, another school friend said: ‘The teachers told Louis that he was bright enough to go to Oxford or Cambridge but he was lost in his own world. 

Louis De Zoysa, 23, was described by his friends as a 'maths geek' who was 'good with weapons' in his school yearbook entry from John Fisher School in Purley, South London

Louis De Zoysa, 23, was described by his friends as a ‘maths geek’ who was ‘good with weapons’ in his school yearbook entry from John Fisher School in Purley, South London

De Zoysa is suspected of shooting dead a police officer in Croydon, South London, last Friday

De Zoysa is suspected of shooting dead a police officer in Croydon, South London, last Friday

‘He comes from a very good family and both his parents are really well educated. They’re a hard working family who put a lot of emphasis on education but as clever as he was, Louis got distracted after leaving school.

‘He was always top of the class in maths and lots of other subjects. Louis was very quiet and a bit of a geek but he was really good at his studies and we all expected him to do well in life.’

Yesterday police searched the home of De Zoysa, an autistic recluse from a middle-class family, who is the son of a Green Party campaigner and former yoga teacher.

Detectives arrested a second man in Norwich on suspicion of supplying the murder weapon used in the shooting as officers probed possible links to gang violence.

Armed officers also raided a former ammunition depot in Surrey as they sought to discover where the suspect obtained the weapon used to carry out the killing.

Sgt Ratana bled to death after being shot in the heart at 2.15am as he was preparing to search a handcuffed suspect who had been arrested on suspicion of intent to supply drugs and possession of ammunition in Croydon.

The suspect was in a holding cell when he is said to have reached into his trousers for the weapon and fired off five shots with his hands still cuffed behind his back, wounding himself in the process.

Sergeant Matiu Ratana, 54, lived in Worthing with his partner Sue Bushby (pictured together)

Sergeant Matiu Ratana, 54, lived in Worthing with his partner Sue Bushby (pictured together)

Sgt Ratana (pictuyred) bled to death after being shot in the heart at 2.15am as he was preparing to search a handcuffed suspect who had been arrested in Croydon, South London

Sgt Ratana (pictuyred) bled to death after being shot in the heart at 2.15am as he was preparing to search a handcuffed suspect who had been arrested in Croydon, South London

Last night De Zoysa was in a critical condition with a neck injury in hospital after having to be revived by doctors over the weekend.

Neighbours around his family’s £700,000 terraced home in Norbury said the ‘awkward’ loner was autistic and suggested he had suffered from mental health issues which may have triggered a referral to Prevent – the Government’s deradicalisation programme for suspected extremists – in 2018.

He is understood to have lived at the house with his mother Elizabeth, a translator who ran as a Green candidate in local elections, and his Sri Lankan father Channa, a former yoga teacher said to be passionate about recycling who repairs bicycles for free.

The Catholic couple, who run an events company, have five children. Local residents said police were often seen at the address. 

Officers were at the De Zoysa family's £700,000 terraced home in Norbury over the weekend

Officers were at the De Zoysa family’s £700,000 terraced home in Norbury over the weekend

Armed officers also raided a former ammunition depot in Surrey over the weekend as they sought to discover where the suspect obtained the weapon used to carry out the killing

Armed officers also raided a former ammunition depot in Surrey over the weekend as they sought to discover where the suspect obtained the weapon used to carry out the killing

One said: ‘The police must have been to their house about a dozen times over the last three or four years. It’s common knowledge that he’s autistic and has learning difficulties and had mental health issues.

‘We would see him walk by now and then but he’d never say hello. I’ve watched their children grow up – they’ve been there about 25 to 30 years.

‘They were a tight-knit family who largely kept themselves to themselves.’ Armed police were yesterday seen searching a farm property in the Banstead area of Surrey.

The 56-acre site was a former ammunitions dump in the Second World War.

Members of the East Grinstead rugby club in West Sussex where Sgt Ratana was head coach linked arms as they laid his club jacket on the pitch and held a minute's silence yesterday

Members of the East Grinstead rugby club in West Sussex where Sgt Ratana was head coach linked arms as they laid his club jacket on the pitch and held a minute’s silence yesterday

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick (centre) joined Home Secretary Priti Patel (left) and London Mayor Sadiq Khan (right) at London's National Police Memorial yesterday

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick (centre) joined Home Secretary Priti Patel (left) and London Mayor Sadiq Khan (right) at London’s National Police Memorial yesterday

Neighbours told of hearing a loud explosion – described as ‘like a bomb going off’ – at 5.40am on Saturday when armed police carried out a controlled explosion as they entered one of the buildings on the site.

Residents said they had previously seen a number of young men going to the site at night. One added: ‘There was comings and goings late at night. It was a bit suspicious.’

Meanwhile, heartbroken members of the rugby club where Sgt Ratana was head coach linked arms as they laid his club jacket on the pitch and held a minute’s silence yesterday.

Bosses at the club in East Grinstead, West Sussex, hailed him as an ‘inspiring and much-loved’ coach and ‘irreplaceable figure’. The tragic policeman lived in Worthing with his partner Sue Bushby.

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