, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13 – A police officer killed himself at the Ngong Police Station early on Monday after returning from night duty.
Constable Stanley Narangwi shot himself in the head at about 6am using an AK-47 rifle that was assigned to him on Sunday night, when he was deployed for night patrol alongside two colleagues.
“He had just returned from night duties but before he could return his firearm, a loud blast was heard in his house and we knew something was wrong,” Ngong police chief Mohammed Farah told journalists at the station.
The officer occupied a house just behind the station, some 22 kilometres from the capital Nairobi.
Farah said the officer did not have any history of indiscipline or known signs of stress prior to the incident.
“We have not established what led him to take away his life; his colleagues have told us he was okay all the time during the patrols in Ngong town,” Farah said.
Officers at the station said they heard a loud blast in the officer’s house and thought he had been attacked but when the gun went silent they rushed there and peeped through the window only to see his lifeless body lying on the floor with the rifle on the side.
“As we struggled to break the door, blood started trickling slowly to the corridor,” one police officer who lived next door said. “It was just a single loud blast, and we knew that must be a big gun.”
Other officers and members of the public at the station’s main office less than 100 meters away scampered for safety on hearing the blast.
“The sound of that firearm is devastating. I had to run to safety and only returned when I saw people gathered outside that house. What I saw when they broke the door is not something I would want to remember at all. The head was totally blown up and there was a lot of blood,” a witness Martin ole Seren said.
Rose Njeri, a hawker passing nearby said she could not understand why the policeman decided to take his life.
“It does not make sense at all. There are always alternatives in anything,” she said after watching officers load the deceased’s body wrapped in a black paper bag onto a pickup truck.
A resident in the area described the deceased officer as “calm and always understanding. I have known him for a while… I usually see him guarding a bank in the town.”
The 35-year-old officer lived alone and records available in his personal file at the Police Headquarters indicate that he was not married. Authorities said they had informed his family of the sudden demise.
Cases of police officers turning guns on themselves or going on shooting sprees have been on the rise, with the latest reported in September 2011, when an Administration Policeman went on the rampage and killed two people outside a bar in Riruta Satellite after an argument with his colleagues.
In July 2011, a policeman in Tana River District shot dead his girlfriend and another officer, before he was gunned down. Earlier in May, a police constable at Parklands Police station in Nairobi went berserk and shot dead his boss, injured a colleague before killing himself.
In March 2011, another police officer was charged with murder after he shot dead two of his seniors before he injured another one in Nanyuki.
And in February, a GSU officer in Mombasa pumped 14 bullets into his boss before killing himself.
In November 2010, an Administration Police constable shot 10 people dead before attempting to kill himself but surrendered after he realised he had run out of bullets. The incident involved a love triangle.
The worrying trend of such police killings has been linked to frustration among police officers due to poor pay among other challenges.
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere blamed the cases on poor stress management amongst his officers.