Colleagues, friends and teammates of Matiu Ratana, the police sergeant killed by a handcuffed suspect in a custody suite, will pay silent tribute to him two days after his untimely death.
Ratana, originally from New Zealand, has been hailed as a “father figure” and “role model” by those that knew him.
The 54-year-old sergeant, known more commonly as Matt, was heavily involved in club rugby, prompting his former teammates at East Grinstead Rugby Club to plan a minute’s silence before matches begin on Sunday morning.
Matt Marriot, vice-chairman of the club, said there had been "enormous" interest in two planned one-minute silences, with people "from all over the country" expected to pay their respects.
He told BBC Breakfast: "I've actually never met anybody quite like Matt, he must have been an incredible policeman. His attention to detail and his strive for perfection, his work ethic, just blew all of us away."
He added: "He wasn't just a coach to the players. He was a role model, a mentor, and often actually a father figure. We're going to mourn him as a family member. He's left a big hole, to be honest."
London Irish, another club Ratana played for and later coached at, similarly paid their respects to the police officer by releasing a statement in honour of him.
“Matt was an integral part of the Bs for many years - he features in the memories of many of us whether it be from our tours to the likes of Sicily, Catatonia and Marbella, on the pitch or in the bar sharing stories,” the club’s chairman Kevin Flynn said, before adding: “He was a true gent and dedicated police officer and will leave a gap in our hearts on and off the field.”
Similar reports of clubs across the UK paying respects to the sergeant continue to be shared on Twitter and other social media platforms. Notably, Long Eaton Rugby Club, based in Nottingham, posted that its players had held a two minute round of applause for Ratana before play resumed on Sunday morning.
A minute's silence was also held at New Scotland Yard and Croydon Police Station to pay tribute to Ratana, who joined the police force in 1991.
Met commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said Ratana “was big in stature and big-hearted, a friendly, capable police officer. A lovely man, highly respected by officers and staff, and by the public, including suspects he arrested or dealt with in custody".
Dame Dick also said: “He was very well known locally and will be remembered so fondly in Croydon, as well as in the Met and the rugby world."
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern followed suit, sharing a Facebook post dedicated to Ratana’s service and life.
Also on Sunday, the Prince of Wales will lead tributes to fallen police officers for National Police Memorial Day (NPMD), honouring those who have lost their lives on duty.
Investigators probing the fatal shooting are working with a "determination to find justice" for their fallen colleague, the officer leading the murder case said.
The suspect in the killing, which took place at Croydon Custody Centre in south London at around 2.15am on Friday, remains in a critical condition in hospital.
The 23-year-old, who also shot himself, had still not been spoken to by officers on Saturday evening due to his condition.
Meanwhile there has been a public outcry for the suspect to be named, with some Twitter users branding it “an outrage” that his name had not yet been released to the media and general public.
“Surely if he’s named the public might have info that could help the investigation,” one user wrote.
Sgt Matiu Ratana’s murderer still not named after more than two days!!— gerard peter anthony (@gerardjasper) September 27, 2020
What’s taking so long?
The gunmen’s identity is known to the police so why no public announcement?
Surely if he’s named the public might have info that could help the investigation.
Police are said to be "painstakingly" searching four crime scenes in connection with the killing, including the custody suite where the incident unfolded and the site at which the suspect was arrested in Norbury for possession of ammunition and class B drugs.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which attended the scene after the shooting, said the suspect had been taken into the building and sat in a holding area in the custody suite, then opened fire while still in handcuffs as officers prepared to search him with a metal detector.
No police firearms were fired in the incident, it has been confirmed, and the case is not being treated as terror-related.
Ratana leaves behind a partner and a grown-up son. He had moved into custody work because he thought it was safer as he approached retirement, a friend told reporters.
He is the eighth police officer in the UK to be shot dead in the last 20 years and the first to be murdered by a firearm in the line of duty since Pcs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in September 2012.
The Met sergeant is the 17th from the force to be killed by a firearm since the end of the Second World War, according to the National Police Memorial roll of honour.
Additional reporting by agencies