Up to 50 violent gangs could be operating in the area where five-year-old Thursha Kamaleswaran was caught in the crossfire of a feud, sources said yesterday.
The busy Stockwell Road is now noticeably quiet. Police vans and media are gathered outside the convenience store where the shooting took place.
Kanthan Mylganam, 22, works two doors down and said he was aware of the area's dangers. He was robbed in his room above his shop two years ago.
"I am scared to go outside now and stay indoors after 11pm. It's really not safe," he said. "I am not surprised at the number of gangs they are talking about, but it is worrying that a little girl got caught up in their business."
Detectives investigating the shooting have secured the support of the Territorial Support Group to reassure locals they are not at risk of tit-for-tat attacks.
Lambeth councillor Peter Robbins said work had been done to tackle the borough's gang problems but more was needed.
"It is incredibly shocking, I think the whole community is numb and horrified, and rightly so," he said.
"There is a fairly well-known problem with gangs and guns in Lambeth, it is something that the council and the police are working together incredibly hard to solve."
But other locals said the area is no different to many others in London.
Simon Tichner, 41, landlord of the Queen's Head pub said: "It is usually gang against gang – yes, if you walk across the estate at night you will find trouble, but where in London wouldn't you?"
In this case innocent bystanders couldn't avoid the gang warfare as it spilled out onto the high street. One of the pair being chased by the gunmen told police how he cowered behind shelves in order to escape the bullets.
A man in the shop, believed to be Roshan Selvakumar, 35, was shot in the head, and five-year-old Thursha, are both in a serious but stable condition.Reuse content