BRADFORD - Family, friends and colleagues were yesterday struggling to come to terms with the death of a policewoman who was shot by armed robbers on the day she should have been celebrating her youngest child's 4th birthday.
Sharon Beshenivsky, a 38-year-old mother, was killed and her female colleague, Teresa Milburn, 37, injured when they were called to a robbery of a Bradford travel agent by three men.
Even in a world where extreme violence is commonplace, the story of the wife and mother who finally fulfilled her ambition only to die before she could even serve a full year was deeply shocking.
It is all the more disturbing for the fact that Beshenivsky was killed on the day she ought to have been celebrating her youngest child's 4th birthday.
Five men and one woman were arrested yesterday in a series of operations in London over Beshenivsky's murder, two days after the robbery.
Beshenivsky, a mother of three children and two step-children, aged 4 to 14, joined West Yorkshire police nine months ago.
Her husband, Paul, a landscape gardener, was said to be "completely devastated".
Beshenivsky had previously served as a community police officer for two years and had always wanted to join the police force.
Yesterday West Yorkshire's chief constable, Colin Cramphorn, described her as "an enthusiastic, mature and very positive colleague" with an infectious laugh.
"I think her inspector said it all for me when he said he would have liked 30 Sharons on the shift," Cramphorn said.
Milburn is also a probationer, having joined the West Yorkshire force 17 months ago. The mother of a 16-year-old boy, she is being treated in hospital after being shot in the shoulder. She remains under armed guard. While the officer's condition is not life-threatening, the police say she is "very traumatised" by her colleague's murder. She was told of Beshenivsky's death on Friday.
The two officers thought they were attending a routine call when they were radioed that an alarm had gone off at the Universal Express travel agent in Morley St, Bradford.
When the officers arrived at the agency just after 3pm, they were confronted by three men outside the premises, one of whom was armed.
Several shots were fired. One bullet penetrated Beshenivsky's body armour and lodged in her chest.
The assailants left both police officers lying in the street as they ran towards a nearby get-away car.
Beshenivsky is the sixth female police officer to be killed in the line of duty.