Police cordon
Police cordon Reuters

A seven-year-old girl is fighting for her life after reportedly being shot in the head by her father.

The girl has been taken to King's College Hospital with what police have described as "life-threatening" injuries.

The body of a man - believed to be the girl's father - has been found following the shooting in Spring Hill, in Northiam, near Rye, East Sussex, after he turned the gun on himself.

A police spokesman confirmed the reports saying: "A girl of primary school age has suffered a gunshot wound to the head and has been taken to King's College Hospital in London for treatment where she is in a life-threatening condition.

We are treating this as a tragic domestic incident and do not believe that anyone else is involved.
- Chief Superintendent Neil Honnor

"Armed officers were called to the scene shortly before 4pm today to ensure the area was safe and found the body of a man, who was known to the girl, in a car parked outside."

Sussex Police say the death is not being treated as suspicious. They confirmed they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident and there was "no suggestion that the public are in danger."

Chief Superintendent Neil Honnor said: "We are treating this as a tragic domestic incident and do not believe that anyone else is involved. At this stage we are not in a position to confirm the relationships of all those involved but we can say that the girl and the man knew each other. The man does not live at the address.

"We are treating this as an isolated incident and there is no evidence that any other members of the public are at risk."

Armed officers are at the scene ensuring the area is safe. There is no evidence that the public are at risk. Spring Hill has been sealed off while officers investigate the incident and is likely to be closed for the next few hours."

Villager Anthony Burr, 37, who lives near the scene of the shooting described how news of the tragedy spread through the community.

"I was in the living room and heard the sound of a firearm," he said. "The sound of police sirens followed some minutes later. Obviously there was panic across Northiam, we all went into lockdown, shut doors, got the children in," he said.

"What transpired is what we feared, which is that a young girl, who was eight years old, was shot in the head."

A neighbour, Margaret Bensley described the girl as 'pretty and well spoken', saying she and her mother had not lived in the area for long and believed that the mother and daughter lived alone, without the girl's father.

"She was pretty and she spoke very well," said Mrs Bensley. "She was just like any other six-year-old girl. She was extremely fond of cats and I have got two and she used to sometimes stroke mine outside my house. She was making up a story about them one time."

Describing the chaotic scenes in the normally quiet neighbourhood she said: "There were about 10 police cars and a van and then a bomb squad vehicle arrived. Some of them were in camouflage type uniforms and they had loads of guns and bullet-proof vests on and some had helmets.

"It was a massive presence. It was very scary and horrible to see. We were just told to stay at the front of our houses while they dealt with it.'

The scene of the shooting remains surrounded by scores of police vehicles.