TEN men arrested on suspicion of murder following the horror death of PC Andrew Harper were from a nearby traveller site, police revealed today.
They say the suspects, aged 13 to 30, were all arrested at the Four Houses Corner caravan site in Reading Road near Burghfield Common, Berks after the cop was dragged under a getaway van.
Force bosses also revealed Andrew died of "multiple injuries" but admitted they still don't know how he became trapped under the vehicle while he dealt with reports of a burglary.
Detective Superintendent Aisla Kent of the Major Crime Unit said: “A Post Mortem was carried out on Andrew’s body yesterday, and the cause of death has been recorded as multiple injuries.
“The cause of death is consistent with our current belief that Andrew was caught between a vehicle and the road, and then dragged for a distance.
“However the circumstances as to how Andrew came to be out of his vehicle and then caught under the suspect vehicle is unknown."
All the suspects were arrested at a local authority-run caravan and mobile home site, it was confirmed.
“Earlier today we sought a 36 hour extension to their custody, and this was granted at Reading Magistrates Court," revealed DS Kent.
“In respect of our investigation, we are interviewing those in custody, carrying out house to house enquiries, obtaining and reviewing CCTV footage, undertaking forensic examination, and taking witness statements.”
It's now been claimed police are concerned for the safety of the victims of the burglary PC Harper was called to.
A police source told MailOnline: "The safety and well-being of the victims of the burglary may well be an issue if, as it appears to be at this stage, it was the work of an organised criminal gang."
Earlier we told how a desperate colleague of dying Andrew yelled "stay with me, keep breathing" as he battled to save the hero PC.
The newlywed traffic officer, 28, was killed after being dragged along by a car and reportedly hit by a police car while attending a burglary in rural Berkshire on Thursday night.
Andrew had wed sweetheart Lissie Beckett, 28, just four weeks before. They were due to go on their honeymoon next week.
A passerby has told how they heard heartbreaking cries as he lay dying on the road, not far from the village of Sulhamstead.
The witness told the Daily Mail: "When I came outside I could see one patrol car facing the A4 and the other facing in the other direction.
"The officer’s crewmate was shouting, saying 'Stay with me, stay with me. Keep breathing.' Those words will stay with me.
"He was crouched over the officer’s body, which was lying on the lane."
Today forensics with sniffer dogs were seen descending on Four Houses Corner, a council-run travellers' site around three miles from the scene near Burghfield Common.
PC Harper was with a colleague when he stepped out of his vehicle at around 11.30pm and was struck by a car at a crossroads on the A4 Bath Road between Reading and Newbury.
He initially fell beneath the vehicle and was dragged a “considerable” distance suffering fatal injuries.
Last night The Times reported the officer was then struck by a police car responding to the incident – believed to be a dog unit involved in the pursuit. It is not yet clear at which stage PC Harper died.
Andrew's devastated family have spoken out in the wake of the horrendous death.
Philip Harper told Sky News: "We're absolutely devastated and we're in a bad place."
Mark Harper, the PC's uncle, said: "We are all just so shattered".
He told the Mail Online: "We are a close-knit family and we've been left absolutely devastated by this.
"Police officers need more protection. If anything good can come out of something as tragic as this, it has to be a greater deterrent to criminals."
A Scotland Yard superintendent has also paid tribute, revealing how the PC had helped her with an abusive husband.
Sally Benatar of the Metropolitan Police tweeted: "He was brilliant & gave me the courage to take steps to change my life. I can't thank him enough. He was a top office."
Andrew, a rapid response officer with Thames Valley’s roads and traffic command, was the first cop to die on duty since Westminster PC Keith Palmer in March 2017.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) today told The Sun Online there had been no referral and they were not investigating the incident.
"Blue on blue" deaths are exempt from mandatory referral and investigation by the body.
Floral tributes were laid at the scene, with one describing him as "Thames Valley's finest".
Another read: "A shockingly sad day. We come together as a brotherhood at times like this and hopefully your family can take some comfort from that love and support."
'LIFE IS SLIPPERY'
Tragic PC Harper had given his bride a poignant message when they married in July, saying: “Life is slippery. Here, take my hand.”
The officer sent the romantic card to Lissie on the morning of their big day to mark their commitment to each other.
Lissie was pictured beaming as she read the card containing the quote from American author J.Jackson Brown Jnr moments before walking down the aisle.
PC Harper's death has sparked a national outpouring of national grief and outrage.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the PC’s killing as “mindless and brutal”.
He said the officer’s bravery in intercepting criminals highlights “the risks the police run every day to keep us safe”.
Today Police Federation Chair John Apter slammed the "shocking" rise in violence against officers..
He told Radio 4's Today programme: "We can’t ignore reality that there are 22,000 fewer officers… police are more vulnerable, there is more single crewing, officers are being sent to violent incidents without having equipment such as tasers."
Mr Apter said society had changed "considerably" in the 26 years he'd served the force, adding: "It has become a much more dangerous place… people think they can stick a knife in someone for a pair of trainers."
The father of PC Nicola Hughes, killed while on duty for Greater Manchester Police in 2012, said he'd been hit hard by Harper's death.
Bryn Hughes told BBC Breakfast: "It takes you right back to that day. You get the same feelings and emotions, but you've got them for somebody else."
He added: "You expect that she will be involved" in violent incidents, but "you don't expect her to lose her life".
Home Secretary Priti Patel paid tribute, saying she was "devastated and appalled" by the officer's death.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “totally shocked” by the death.
And Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson paid tribute to the “incredible bravery” of police officers.
Reading Football Club will be honouring their local PC with a minute's silence ahead of their home game against Cardiff on Sunday.
Today flags flew at half mast across the UK in honour of Harper's "extraordinary sacrifice".
Andrew's family have also paid tribute online to "the loveliest person you'll ever meet".
His gran Maureen Shrimpton said: “Our grandson Andrew was killed last night while doing his police work. So proud of him.
“Our love goes to his lovely wife, Mum and Dad, brother and all of his family and friends. Love from Nan and Bubba xxx”
Andrew’s uncle Dale Shrimpton wrote on Facebook: “He’s my oldest nephew. My sister’s first born. Mum and dad’s first grandson . . . and was married two weeks ago at a dream wedding. We are devastated.
“He was the loveliest person that you will ever meet. I can’t begin to tell you how we feel.”
A helicopter equipped with thermal imaging cameras was used in the search for the fleeing suspects.
Detectives yesterday examined two vehicles at the scene under a forensic tent.
Aerial pictures seemed to indicate one car may have veered off the road, and another was surrounded by debris. Evidence of blood and tyre skid marks were visible.
Thames Valley Chief Constable John Campbell confirmed in a statement that Andrew had been "dragged along by a vehicle" after attending to reports of a burglary.
The Chief Constable praised Andrew, who joined the police force in 2010, saying he was “highly regarded and popular”.
Mr Campbell stressed that policing has always been dangerous but added: “We are seeing an increase in violence towards police.”
He highlighted the shocking machete assault on PC Stuart Outten in Leyton, East London, last week and the attack on West Midlands PC Gareth Phillips, who was run over by his own car, two days later.
He declined to comment on the background of those held.
Locals told The Telegraph that the site had been the source of frequent clashes in recent years. Sources said many of its residents had lived there for nearly 50 years.
“There are frequent issues of theft – sometimes the police have pursued people back to Four Houses Corner,” one senior source said.
“There are issues related to hare coursing and other wildlife crime that stem from this and other traveller sites in the area.
“Serious problems for farmers, low-level thefts of machinery, vandalism and hare coursing.”
A man at the scene claimed there had been "umpteen problems" with two caravan sites in the area, referring to the one on Padworth Road and one at Paices Hill.
Paul Jones, 47, who said he was a medically retired firefighter from the village of Tadley, said: "These travellers think they are a law unto themselves.
"We've has garages broken into, vans broken into, shops being burgled, cash machines broken into. We've had one guy have his caravan stolen.
"Police did a raid there (Paices Hill) for modern slavery. You can't drive past there without kids throwing stones at your car."
According to a local media report, a man was arrested in connection with modern slavery offences during a raid in Paices Hill last August.
Andrew and Lissie were due to go on honeymoon to Australia.
They were married on July 18 at Ardington House in Oxfordshire.
Lissie described it as the “happiest day imaginable” when she shared a photo online just two days ago of her smiling at Andrew.
Other photos posted online show the couple smiling as they cut their wedding cake with a sign next to them, saying “Happily ever Harper”.
Cops also killed in the line of duty
TRAGIC Andrew Harper is the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty since March 2017.
The National Police Memorial roll lists all of the 1,600-plus officers killed by criminal acts while working since 1680.
PC Harper’s death comes amid a 27 per cent rise in assaults on constables in which they were injured in the past year.
There were 10,399 incidents recorded between April 2018 and March this year — 2,242 more than the previous year.
PC KEITH PALMER, 48, was unarmed when he tackled Khalid Masood, and was stabbed to death in 2017 in the Westminster terror attack.
He was posthumously awarded the George Medal for gallantry.
PC FIONA BONE, 32, and PC NICOLA HUGHES, 23, were murdered by drug dealer Dale Cregan in Greater Manchester in 2012.
Dad-of-two PC IAN DIBELL, 41, was off work with a hand injury when he was shot and killed near his home in Clacton, Essex, in 2012 after trying to help a member of the public.
Detective Constable STEPHEN OAKE, 40, was killed in a knife attack during a police raid on a flat in Manchester in 2003.
Dad-of-three PC KEITH BLAKELOCK, 40, was hacked to death with a machete during North London riots in 1985.
PC YVONNE FLETCHER, 25, was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984. Her killer has never faced justice.
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