No-one who knew the man shot dead in a Worcestershire village robbery will be untouched by his murder, a church leader has said.
As 100 villagers gathered at St Mark’s Church in Fairfield, near Bromsgrove to remember Craig Hodson-Walker, the Archdeacon of Dudley said the community was seeking to grapple with what had happened.
Mr Hodson-Walker, 29, was shot in the chest at his family’s post office in the village on Friday morning.
His father Ken, 56, was shot in the leg during the raid at Fairfield Post Office and Stores.
Mourners from the village attended a packed church service, along with Mr Hodson-Walker’s brother James, 27, mother Judy, 56 and fiancee Lisa Bundy, 26.
Addressing the congregation, the Venerable Fred Trethewey said: “No one who has known Craig and his family can be untouched by what has happened and gatherings like this are one of the ways in which the community draws strength and offers mutual support.”
After the 45-minute service, Mr Hodson-Walker’s brother, mother and fiancee – flanked by two police family liaison officers – read tributes attached to flowers that were laid outside the family’s post office.
They emerged from the church crying as they walked over the road to the scene of the raid. After spending five minutes reading the messages, they were escorted to a nearby house by officers, who then removed the notes for them to read in private.
West Mercia Constabulary have more than 100 officers investigating the shooting of Mr Hodson-Walker. The Post Office has offered a reward of £50,000 to catch the gang.
Last night Mr Hodson-Walker’s fiancee, Lisa Bundy, described him as her “soulmate and best friend” who “didn’t deserve to die like that”. The couple met 10 years ago and became engaged at Christmas.
The teaching assistant, from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, said in a statement: “I can’t even start to describe the pain - it feels like someone has ripped out my insides. It just seems like a bad dream.
Mr Hodson-Walker’s mother Judy added: “Someone, somewhere knows something about who did this and they should come forward and help the police because those responsible don’t deserve any kind of life as they have snuffed out my son’s life in the most horrific way.”
West Mercia Police now believe four men were involved in the robbery who fled the scene in a silver Volkswagen Golf which was stolen from Solihull on New Year’s Eve at about 8.20am on Friday.
Detectives said it was likely they had been caught in rush-hour traffic and urged anyone who saw the getaway vehicle to contact them.