Their son is indeed ‘died a true hero’ and had he been fighting against barbarity in any other war he would have received a medal with the highest honors. Instead, he is remembered nowehere except with a small group of Kurds. The world is a sad mess. People like Ryan Lock are the light of the world, willing to die to fight evil.
‘All I was thinking was how will I get my son back?’: Mother’s agony as she hears how her ‘hero’ son shot himself in the head to avoid capture as he was surrounded by ISIS militants while fighting in Syria
- Ryan Lock, 20, had no previous military experience but joined the Kurdish militia
- The former chef told his family he was going backpacking to Turkey in August
- Mr Lock, from West Sussex, was ‘surrounded’ by ISIS fighters and shot himself
The mother of a ‘heroic’ British chef who shot himself while fighting ISIS in Syria to avoid being captured today said she panicked when she found out he was in the war-torn country and thought ‘how will I get my son back?’
Ryan Lock, 20, from Chichester, West Sussex, took his own life by shooting himself under the chin when he became ‘surrounded’ by IS fighters in the northern city of Raqqa.
The young cook, who told his mother ‘someone should do something’ to protect people from the terror organisation in the war-torn country, was ‘immobilised’ after taking an AK47-type bullet to the thigh.
Back in the UK, his father, who had not heard from his son in two weeks, made the devastating discovery he was dead when he found a picture of his body on an Arabic news site.
Mr Lock had no previous military experience but joined the People’s Defence Units (YPG) after telling his family he was going backpacking to Turkey in August last year.
His mother, Catherine Lock, a nurse from Havant, Hampshire, told his inquest in Portsmouth, Hampshire, she panicked when she learned where he was and wondered how she would ‘get her son back’.
The hearing was told that after being surrounded by IS fighters, he turned his gun on himself to prevent himself from suffering a ‘frightening and painful death’.
The hearing was told that after his death, a letter was passed to Mr Lock’s family written by ‘AJ Woodhead’ which said their son ‘died a true hero’ and that in any other war he would have received a medal.
Authorities have not been able to identify him but believe he is a Canadian man who followed a similar path to Mr Lock.
His letter said: ‘Mr and Mrs Lock, I am so very sorry your son has died. I want to let you know your son died a true hero.
‘I met him at a YPG academy and was with him in the action that saw him pass on.
‘He lived to the truest standards of a soldier and despite being injured in the leg he continued firing bravely.
‘If he was fighting for the Army, he would be honoured as a true hero and it’s only right he is.’
Recording a narrative verdict, Portsmouth and South East Hampshire coroner David Horsley Mr Horsley said he would not rule it as ‘suicide’ because he had not planned to travel to Syria to kill himself.
He said: ‘This is the story of a young man who gave up a stable and comfortable life in order to go and fight for what he believes in and give his life for it.
‘He was likely to have fallen to the hands of a cruel and ruthless enemy so instead he took his own life. It can only be viewed as a very brave act.
‘I don’t believe this can be viewed as suicide. He was a very brave man and his family have lost a very heroic young man.’
The coroner added: ‘He died doing something he quite clearly believed passionately in.’
In the months before his death, Mr Lock had kept in touch with his family via Facebook Messenger, sending them pictures and updates on his military training.
But after losing contact with him last December, Mr Lock’s father Jon Plater found images online of his son with an IS fighter standing over his body, and his death was later confirmed, the inquest heard.
His mother was originally told by her son he would ‘just be cooking’ for the YPG after he boarded a £294 flight to Turkey then Iraq before travelling to Syria.
She said her son was a ‘quiet boy’ who was ‘interested in politics’ and days before he left expressed anger over the war in Syria.
She said: ‘He liked playing military computer games, from a young age he had an interest in the military. He was a big fan of being outdoors and loved camping.
‘If he was going to a place he would read up on it first and he was quite political.
‘A few days before he went we were watching Channel 4 news and there was a piece about the war in Syria.
‘He was saying how bad it was and how sad it all is for the women and children and said ‘someone should do something about it’.
‘I’m always able to tell when something is not right and I think he knew that so was more sheltered.
‘We only found out a few days before that he was going away at all.
‘At the time he had been working long hours and had some sort of dispute with a colleague and said to me ‘mum I don’t want to be in my fifties and not done anything’.
‘He said ‘I want to do something with my life in my want 20s I don’t want to look back regretting it in my 50s’.’
She added: ‘He had been in Turkey for a day or so and that’s when he sent me message to say ‘I’m really sorry, I am actually going to Syria to fight with the YPG.’
‘I said ‘that’s not even funny’ and I panicked and thought ‘how will I get my son back’?’
His family was left ‘completely grief stricken’ after the YPG told them he had died with other fighters on December 21.
Paying tribute to him, his caterer father Jon said his son had a ‘heart of gold’ and was a ‘caring and loving boy who would do anything to help anyone’.
Dozens of people, including members of the Kurdish community, held roses and framed pictures of Mr Lock at Heathrow Airport when his body was repatriated to the UK in February.
Supporters of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) said his ‘memory will forever live on in our struggle for the freedom of Syria and our hope for change in the whole world’.
YPG general command member Mihyedin Xirki said Mr Lock, who used the nom de guerre Berxwedan Givara, was a ‘martyr’ who died ‘putting up a brave fight’.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to Syria, saying the situation remains ‘extremely volatile and dangerous’.
Four Britons are believed to have died fighting IS with the Kurds in Syria.
The latest was 22-year-old Luke Rutter, from Birkenhead, who died in Raqqa on July 5. In a final video message, he apologised for lying to his loved ones about going to fight.
Dean Evans, 22, a dairy farmer from Reading, died in the city of Manbij in July last year and ex-Royal Marine Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, from Barnsley, died in the northern village of Tel Khuzela in March 2015.