Cayman detective recalls colleague slain in terror attack

Detective served in Territorial Army with PC Keith Palmer

A Cayman Islands police detective who served with murdered U.K. police officer Keith Palmer in the Territorial Army spoke of her shock at the brutal death of her friend in the terrorist attack that rocked London this week.

Lizzie Owens served in the same unit as Mr. Palmer, the officer who was stabbed to death inside the gates of the British parliament on Wednesday.

Detective Owens said she was stunned at the attack and saddened by the death of Mr. Palmer, 48, whom she described as a good man and a good friend during their army days.

The pair served together in the same London-based volunteer unit in the 1990s before going on to separate careers in the police force.

“I was 17 when I joined and the only girl in the unit, so they were all like my big brothers,” she said.

Detective Owens said she saw coverage of the terrorist attack, which left four people dead and dozens injured, during the day on Wednesday. It was not until later when she saw Facebook tributes from other members of their army unit that she realized her friend was the police officer who had been killed.

She said about a dozen former army colleagues at the London-based unit have been sharing memories and photographs over the past 24 hours.

“We haven’t seen each other for years, but those type of friendships stay with you for life.”

She said she had been unable to look at the news pictures of people rushing to the aid of the police officer.

“I feel really sad, not because I have lost a friendship, but for his family, his wife and child. It is such a brutal way to die and so senseless. That little girl is going to grow up without a daddy because somebody else made that decision.”

Mr. Palmer was the father of a 5-year-old daughter.

PC Palmer was hailed as a hero for protecting Parliament and confronting Khalid Masood, the man named by police as responsible for Wednesday’s attack.

Conservative MP James Cleverly, also a former army colleague of PC Palmer in the same unit, paid tribute to his friend in a speech in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Mr. Cleverly said he first met PC Palmer as a gunner in the Royal Artillery, 25 years ago.

“He was a strong, professional public servant and it was a delight to meet him again only a few months after being elected,” he said.

He then asked Prime Minister Theresa May to honor the officer posthumously for his “gallant” actions.

“Would the Prime Minister, in recognition of the work that he did and the other police officers and public servants here in the House do, consider recognizing his gallantry and sacrifice formally with a posthumous recognition?”

A media statement from Mr. Palmer’s family said he will be “deeply missed.”

It read: “Keith will be remembered as a wonderful dad and husband. A loving son, brother and uncle. A long-time supporter of Charlton FC, dedicated to his job and proud to be a police officer, brave and courageous.

“A friend to everyone who knew him. He will be deeply missed. We love him so much.

“His friends and family are shocked and devastated by his loss and ask that they are left to grieve alone in peace.”

In a Facebook post Thursday, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service expressed sympathy and condolences to Mr. Palmer’s family: “An attack on a police officer anywhere is an attack on a police officer everywhere, and we want our law enforcement partners in London and elsewhere to know that we stand with them as guardians of public safety who potentially put ourselves at risk, day after day, to protect the public from the scourges of crime, and in this case, terrorism.”

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  1. If it’s any consolation to Detective Owens a friend of mine in the UK was at the Royal Marines Concert in the Royal Albert Hall last night and the concert finale, comprising Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory, was dedicated to all those caught up in this attack. Apparently the response to this was overwhelming. The concert was very heavily policed and afterwards many of the people leaving stopped to thank the officers and offer condolences for the loss of one of their colleague. She can be assured that this is something that has hit everyone in the UK hard but also that they are not going to give into it.

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