In the aftermath of shock and grief, the questions begin to multiply.
Could the lives of the two women officers have been saved if police were armed?
It would have made no difference. Even had they had the means to defend themselves against an assailant armed with a gun and a grenade, they would have had no time to do so. The lessons of the many fallen RUC officers caught in terrorist ambushes tell us that those who have the advantage of surprise have the deadly trump card.
There are calls for the return of the death penalty for the murders of police officers.
The horrifying aspect of the murders of the two women in Greater Manchester is that it was, on the information so far available, a Raoul Moat-style targeted killing of police officers. The prospect of the death penalty might or might not deter copycats, but with the current make-up of Parliament, the prospects for the ultimate sanction to be voted through look slim.
There is another avenue for action which is staring us all in the face – and that is to make the procedures, safeguards, and penalties which we have already actually work.
Incredibly, it turns out that the suspect Dale Cregan was on police bail. Equally incredibly the offence for which he was arrested and questioned in June was a fatal shooting.
After being released, it is obvious that the police did not know where he was – until yesterday, when he walked into a police station shortly after two women police officers lost their lives in the course of their duty.
Should it turn out that their deaths could have been prevented by the application of some common sense and rigour in dealing with those suspected of murderous crimes, it will pile on the hurt and add to the anger.