New Zealand Rugby has paid tribute to Matt Ratana, the murdered police sergeant who was shot dead by a handcuffed suspect as he was booked in at a custody suite in south London.
In a statement on Twitter, New Zealand Rugby said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of #SgtMattRatana whose loss is being felt hard across the rugby and police community in both the UK and New Zealand.
“Rest In Peace Sergeant Matt.”
The New Zealand-born officer, who joined the Met in 1991, was head coach at East Grinstead Rugby Club.
Ryan Morlen, 31, assistant head coach at EGRFC, called Sgt Ratana an “irreplaceable figure”.
“The club here, from juniors, seniors, to the women’s team they’re going to really miss Matt. It’s going to take time to process.
“As a community he brought a lot of things together. I spoke to Matt every single day … and there are thousands of people out there that really looked up to him.
“Nothing is enough to show how much we loved that guy and how much of a role model he was to many, and he really was.”
Police investigating the murder of Sgt Ratana at a police station in Croydon on Friday have been searching a house, believed to be the suspect’s family home, in Southbrook Road, Norbury, south-west London, and a property in Park Road, Banstead, in Surrey.
Detectives are yet to speak to the suspect, widely named as 23-year-old Louis De Zoysa, who remains in a critical condition in hospital after he shot himself as he opened fire with a revolver while handcuffed behind his back.
Deputy assistant commissioner Stuart Cundy said on Tuesday: “The murder of Sgt Ratana sent shockwaves through the Metropolitan Police Service.
“Nevertheless his colleagues are determined to find justice for him and his family.”
The Metropolitan Police said the second location includes access to several derelict buildings and more than 30 acres of land, with the “complex” search expected to take days to complete.
Croydon Custody Centre, where the shooting took place, remains a crime scene, while searches in London Road, in Pollards Hill, south London – where De Zoysa was arrested – and a location in central London have also been carried out.
Mr Cundy said: “It is five days since the murder of our colleague and our work continues at a high tempo.
“We have traced a number of witnesses who have been able to contribute significant information about the events leading up to the shooting.
“We continue to pursue multiple lines of inquiry and consider the results of initial forensic examinations, including of the gun recovered from custody.”
No police firearms were discharged in the incident, and the case is not being treated as terror-related.
A man who was arrested in Norwich on suspicion of supplying a firearm has been released on bail until late October.
Sgt Ratana’s partner of five years, Su Bushby, said: “I know Matt touched many, many people’s lives with his friendliness, patience, kindness, enthusiasm and caring ways.
“I had the pleasure of sharing five years of my life with this lovely man – my gentle giant, with his infectious smile and big heart. I think of him with tenderness and love.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe