The death of Jean Charles de Menezes on the London Underground in 2005 remains a horrifying example of what happens when counterterrorism goes wrong. One of the extraordinary features of the shooting was the remarkable number of special elements, police units, military Special Forces and unusual procedures and tactics, involved in the incident. This article attempts to assess the causal significance of the special dimension in the horrific chain of circumstances. It does so by interrogating numerous explanations for the tragedy and highlighting the role of the special factor. The Stockwell shooting remains very important today because it casts a sharp and somewhat harsh spotlight on the particular pitfalls of special responses, measures and units to the multitudinous threats posed by international terrorism in the twenty-first century.