Force refers itself to IOPC over prior contact with shotgun victim

Avon and Somerset Constabulary has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over its prior contact with a woman who was found shot dead in a Somerset village on Saturday afternoon (February 23).

Feb 26, 2020
By Tony Thompson

Firearms officers were called to a property in Winsford, near Minehead, by a member of the public who had raised concerns about the welfare of a woman at 2.30pm.

Officers discovered 56-year-old dog breeder Debbie Zurick outside the property suffering from severe injuries inflicted by a shotgun. She was given CPR by officers but was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 67-year-old man, believed to be John Zurick, the estranged husband of Mrs Zurick, was found in an outbuilding close to the property, also suffering from injuries caused by a shotgun. A second woman, who is being treated as a key witness, was discovered uninjured nearby.

Mr Zurick, whose condition is described as critical but stable, is in police custody but has been transferred to a hospital in Devon for emergency treatment.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary confirmed that weapons had been seized earlier this month as part of a separate investigation at the property, which lies next to a country estate owned by the Prime Minister’s father. A spokesperson said the force had been satisfied that no firearms licensed to any of the occupants remained at the premises following this visit.

Detective Sergeant Julie Mackay, of the major crime investigation team, said: “This is a very serious incident in which a woman has lost her life and we are deploying family liaison officers to support the next of kin. The scene remains cordoned off so further forensic inquiries and searches can take place over the next few days.

“Due to prior police contact with those involved, a mandatory referral has been made to the IOPC. It would be inappropriate for us to go into further details while the referral is being considered.”

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