Sergeant Matiu Ratana was shot when preparing to search a suspect in a police station in Croydon on Friday. Louis De Zoysa, 23, is understood to have shot himself in the incident

The man suspected of killing a police officer in Croydon was described by pals as being “good with weapons” in his school yearbook.

Sergeant Matiu Ratana, 54, was killed in the early hours of Friday, allegedly shot by a handcuffed suspect who apparently managed to smuggle a revolver into the police custody suite.

Mr Ratana’s suspected murderer, widely reported to be 23-year-old Louis De Zoysa, remains in a critical condition in hospital after he was also hit by a bullet following the killing.

Now pictures of De Zoysa’s yearbook entry have emerged showing him in school uniform, with one friend saying he was “very clever” and another adding: “One day we will rule the world together”.

The photo was taken when De Zoysa was 16 and a pupil at The John Fisher School, a Roman Catholic boys’ comprehensive in Purley, South London.

Sgt Ratana – known at Matt – was shot in the heart at 2.15am at the police station in Croydon, South London.

He was preparing to search a handcuffed suspect arrested in nearby Norbury for possession of ammunition and possession of class B drugs with intent to supply.

The police watchdog is investigating how the suspect allegedly concealed a revolver in his trousers after his arrest. He had been on foot when he was stopped by a patrol car at around 1.30am.

According to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the suspect was taken into the police station and put in a holding area in the custody suite.

He is said to have opened fire while still in the handcuffs as officers prepared to search him with a metal detector.

It comes after Sgt Ratana’s girlfriend spoke of her grief over the killing of her “gentle giant with an infectious smile and a big heart”.

Su Bushby said: “There aren’t really any words for how I’m feeling right now about the loss of Matt – about losing someone I loved and was so close to.

“I had the pleasure of sharing five years with this lovely man – my gentle giant, with his infectious smile and big heart.

“I think of him with tenderness and love. Matt will always be in my head and in my heart.”

The New Zealand-born Met officer had been due to retire within months, after 30 years’ service with the force.

A police guard was in place outside a housing development in Banstead on Sunday, after neighbours reported an explosion in the early hours of the previous morning.

Officers also arrested a man at around 2am on Sunday in Norwich, Norfolk, on suspicion of supplying a firearm.

A string of community leaders and charity bosses in Croydon paid tribute to Sgt Ratana in a video shared yes­terday on social media. Supt Andy Brittain said: “Matt touched the lives of so many.”

Other colleagues on the Met’s Croydon pages called the video a “beautiful tribute to our incredible Sergeant”.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick described Sgt Ratana as “an extraordinary person” who was good at his job, adding that his death might bring home to people the challenges of police work.

She said she hoped it might help people “to see us as who we are – human beings, going to work to help people, to support people and to protect people. Matt was the epitome of that.”

East Grinstead Rugby Club, where Sgt Ratana was head coach, described him as “an irreplaceable figure”.

In the Commons, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle invited members in the chamber, including Home Secretary Priti Patel, to pay their respects.

He said: “I am sure all honourable members will wish to join me in paying their respects to Police Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was killed in the course of duty on Friday, and sending our condolences to his family.

“Yesterday was National Police Memorial Day, and I ask all honourable members to stand and observe a minute’s silence to mark that occasion and to remember Matt Ratana.”

Shadow Home Office Minister Sarah Jones said: “As a Croydon MP, as well as Shadow Policing Minister, can I pay tribute to Sgt Matt Ratana for his years of service in my community.

“Our community spoke as one on Friday, both in our grief but also in our gratitude to the many years of service from a wonderful officer.

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse added in reply: “I know it hit home hard in Croydon for her and I think she was due to visit the very custody suite that day or the following day.

Prince Charles described the incident as “heartbreaking” as he led tributes on Sunday to all fallen police officers.

Claudia Lynn, the ex-partner of Sgt Ratana, told the Mirror: “We lived together for six years and we broke up four or five years ago.

“He was a stepfather to my two children, who are now 14 and 16, so it’s painful for them, although we’ve not been in touch for a while.

Before joining the Met in 1991, Sgt Ratana was previously a protection officer to Princess Diana, the Queen Mother and ex-Prime Minister John Major.

The officer, who lived in Worthing, West Sussex, and was head coach for East Grinstead Rugby Club, was 300 yards from an IRA bomb that went off outside 10 Downing Street in 1992.


News – Croydon shooting suspect described as being ‘good with weapons’ in yearbook