Myra Rose was reading in the Savernake Forest in Wiltshire, UK. It is approximately seven miles from Hungerford in Berkshire. She was approached by two small unescorted children. The older child spoke to her and said, “I’m Hannah and this is my brother James. He is 2 and I am 4. Man in black killed my mummy and we are going home. I live in the house with the blue door.”
Susan Godfrey, the mother of the two children, had taken them to the forest for a picnic in the early afternoon of Aug. 19, 1987. These three were approached by a man, not known to them, named Michael Robert Ryan, age 27. He forced Susan to put her children back into her car, where they were left while Michael Ryan walked Susan into the woods. He then killed her by shooting her in the back with 13 bullets. He returned to his car and drove away. Hannah and James then found Myra Rose.
Susan Godfrey was the first fatal shooting victim of Michael Ryan on that lovely summer day. He then drove to Hungerford, where he proceeded to shoot at random individuals while walking through his hometown. He was armed with a Beretta 92FS semi-automatic 9-mm pistol, a Type 56 7.62x39mm semi-automatic rifle (Chinese copy of the Kalashnikov AK-47) and an M1 Carbine .30 7.62x33mm semi-automatic rifle (a rare “Underwood” model). By the end of the day at 6:45 pm, he had killed 17 people, including his mother, a policeman and himself. He had also shot and wounded 15 other people, many unknown to him.
The response to this massacre was swift. An investigation of the events occurred and generated the Hungerford Report. This report “led to the Firearms (Amendment) Act of 1988, which banned the ownership of semi-automatic centre-fire rifles and restricted the use of shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than two rounds.” The Firearms Act of 1988 received royal assent and became law on Nov. 15, 1988, only 15 months after the massacre.
An entire nation had agreed that its citizens were of greater value than their guns.
East Blue Hill