A wealthy businessman has been shot dead on the doorstep of his farmhouse by a gunman who is then believed to have turned the weapon on himself.
Ray Masters, 58, was blasted in the chest at point-blank range at his £650,000 property in the village of Westbury-sub-Mendip in Somerset on Sunday night.
His horrified wife and son-in-law tried to resuscitate him but he was declared dead shortly after paramedics arrived.
Residents heard several gunshots and armed police descended on the village amid fears that a gunman was on the loose.
But shortly after arriving they discovered the body of a second man in a nearby churchyard.
A shotgun was recovered and police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident, happened at 10.30pm.
Pub chef Matt Day was one of the first witnesses on the scene – running to the house from the nearby Westbury Inn after hearing hysterical screams.
The 26-year-old said: ”A woman was running around the village, screaming for help saying somebody had been shot.
”I ran up to the house and and saw Mr Masters lying on the floor. He had been shot through the chest and it was quite a mess.
”It looked like he had been shot through the door of his home. He was white, not moving and there was lots of blood.
”His son-in-law was holding a towel on him and his wife was running around screaming for help.
”I then ran back to the pub to get my phone and called an ambulance.
”I went back to the house and was just opening the gate to go back in when I heard someone telling me not to move.
”I looked around and there was an armed policeman with a gun. Another man said he was a paramedic and went to attend to the man.
”Then I just left the scene – I was in shock.”
Next door neighbour Ian Harvey was ordered to stay in his home by police after hearing half-a-dozen gun shots ring out.
He said: ”At 10.30pm I heard six to eight shots.
”I phoned the police immediately and was told to lock myself in the house and not to move.”
Neighbour Robert Wood added: ”I was inside the house and heard four shots around 10.30pm.
”The strange thing was there was a bit of space between them all.
”The next thing I heard was a girl screaming – but it sounded like it was hijinks.
”I didn’t think anything of it as it was kicking out time at the pub.
”The place was then awash with police very quickly and there was a helicopter overhead.”
Avon and Somerset Constabulary was alerted to the incident at 10.39pm and the second body was found in the grounds of St Lawrence’s Church in the village – right next to Mr Masters’ home.
Speaking at the scene yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Bevan said: ”About 10.30pm, police were called to the house behind me as a result of shots being fired.
”Police found one man dead with apparent shotgun injuries. An investigation commenced and a second body was found in a churchyard adjacent.
”He had with him a firearm and at this stage we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident.
”The reasons why this has happened are unclear. I’m keeping very much an open mind and appealing for anyone with information to come forward to police.”
A blue Ford Focus parked in front of the churchyard by Mr Masters’ house was cordoned off by police today.
Neighbours described him as a ”generous” businessman who was a pillar of the community.
He lived in Westbury House – one of the largest properties in the village – with his Italian wife Fiorinda, 55. He is believed to have several children.
He was a former director at civil engineering firm Ford Bros in Cheddar, Somerset, and also ran nearby Wells Holiday Park with his son-in-law Jason.
Ros Wyke, parish council chairman, ”It is a very sad day for the community here. The family is well known in the local area but keep themselves to themselves.
”Ray (pictured above) was an active businessman and helped employ some local people. I’ve been parish council chairman here for six years and it is just a very sad incident that has happened.”
Neighbour Magda Croll said her husband Policz Kiewicz worked for Ray Masters, calling him a ”really helpful man”.
Magda sobbed: ”He helped a lot when we moved from Bristol, with work and with a home. He was a really generous man.
”He was a successful businessman and he always fought for what he thought was right.
”We cannot believe what has happened.”
Westbury-sub-Mendip, with a population of 800, lies on the edge of the Mendip Hills between Cheddar and Wells.
Les Moore, 78, a churchwarden at St Lawrence’s Church, said: ”We heard police helicopters overhead in the village at about 11.30pm and we believe there were some people from the pub that were on the scene pretty quickly.
”The first thing we heard about a shooting was this morning.
”I knew Ray – he lived right next to the church. He was a local businessman and had quite a few different businesses.
”He had a wife, children, and ran a civil engineering firm in Cheddar.
”He was a very popular guy and did lots of things in the village. He would support charity events and would also help out the church at Christmas and Easter.
”I would see him most days driving in and out of his house and last saw him about three days ago.”
But some locals said Mr Masters had a fearsome reputation in his business dealings.
A neighbour, who lives close to the Wells Holiday Park which Ray Masters owned, said his family had a reputation for getting what they wanted.
He said: ”Ray Masters took over the holiday park with his son-in-law Jason two years ago.
”He lives with Ray’s daughter in the house next door.
”There was a plot of land that couldn’t be built on behind our house, but Ray Masters said he could get planning permission – and he did.
”You don’t mess with the Masters. They will always win. Whenever something goes to court or there’s a legal matter they will always win hands down.”