LONDON Detectives hunting fugitive gunman Raoul Moat, who has openly declared war on police, said on Thursday he had made threats for the first time against the general public.
Moat, a bodybuilder and former nightclub bouncer, has been on the run for six days after three people were shot, one fatally, shortly after he was released from prison.
In a massive operation, hundreds of armed officers are combing woodlands and countryside around Rothbury, a rural town in Northumberland where he is believed to be hiding out.
At a news briefing, Northumbria's temporary chief constable Sue Sim said the nature of the threat had changed and the risk increased.
"From the outset, we have stressed Mr Moat's grievances are largely directed towards the police. Information has now emerged that he has made threats to the wider public," she said, without elaborating.
Senior officers also said they had arrested two people whom they accuse of helping him.
Earlier on Thursday, police charged two other men, who had initially had been taken as hostages, with conspiracy to commit murder.
Karl Ness, 26, of Dudley, North Tyneside and Qhuram Awan, 23, of Blyth, Northumberland, are also charged with possessing a firearm with intent.
Armed officers, including police snipers, searched the countryside around Rothbury overnight after the discovery of a tent where Moat, 37, had been living rough.
"The searches in this area have proved a particular challenge due to the open farmland and dense woodland and officers are continuing in their efforts today," said Deputy Chief Constable Jim Campbell.
Officers from London, Northern Ireland and six neighbouring forces have been drafted in to help in the search.
Moat is suspected of shooting his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, and killing her boyfriend, Chris Brown, 20, early on Saturday morning at her mother's home in Gateshead.
Police say he then shot and critically injured PC David Rathband, 42, as he sat in a patrol car a few miles away at East Denton, Newcastle.
In a letter found in his abandoned tent to Stobbart, Moat reiterated his belief her new partner had been a police officer. Police have stressed this was untrue.
In a separate letter to Northumbria police and published by the Sun newspaper on Tuesday Moat blamed police for wrecking his life and destroying his relationship with Stobbart.
(Additional reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison)
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