Eleven-year-old boy shot dead in Liverpool car park

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The Independent Online

An 11-year-old boy died last night after he was shot in a pub car park in Liverpool. The boy was reportedly playing football with two friends near the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth at about 7.30pm, when a hooded teenager rode past on a BMX bicycle and fired three shots.

One eyewitness, who was outside the pub at the time of the attack and did not want to be named, told the BBC that three shots were fired at close range. One shot missed the boys and another hit a car, but a third bullet struck the victim's neck, the witness said.

Merseyside Police confirmed the fatal shooting and said an investigation was under way. Assistant Chief Constable Simon Byrne held a press conference last night and challenged the local community to help catch the killer.

"Someone out there knows who put the gun in his hand and I want your help to get the community to turn that gunman in tonight," he said. "This is quite an awful crime, quite senseless, and the community holds the clue to solving this crime quickly. You can only imagine the heartache of the family that's been ripped apart by quite a senseless crime."

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, last night expressed her condolences to the boy's family and said she was being kept informed of developments. "I'm shocked and saddened to hear about this tragic shooting," she said. "My thoughts are with the victim's family and friends."

A North-west Ambulance spokesman said the 11-year-old had been wearing a football kit. The spokesman confirmed that one of the bullets had hit the boy in the neck and that paramedics had still been working on the victim when he was moved to Alder Hey children's hospital, where he later died.

The boy's mother was reportedly called to the scene as people from outside the pub gathered to try to help. Last night the pub was surrounded by police tape and about 20 officers were standing guard. A parade of shops nearby and a large car park were also sealed off. Buses from the local transport company, Arriva, were reportedly used to move people from the pub.

"Shockwaves have gone right through the community," Rose Bailey, a local councillor, said. "I have lived in Croxteth for 26 years now and I have never, ever been afraid to walk the streets."

The campaign group Mothers Against Guns said: "It is horrendous for such a young boy to be taken like this. Young people need to be educated and motivated in order that they do not get involved in street crime and anti-social behaviour. This seems to be a cycle that continues and continues."

The area around the Fir Tree pub is known to police as a trouble-spot where youths gather around the shops and pub car park, some using and dealing drugs. Last year it was made a "designated area" where officers could disperse groups and move people away.

The shooting comes amid rising concern about gang and drug-related gun crime across the UK. A month ago Tyrone Gilbert, 23, was killed and two others, including a 14-year-old boy, were injured in a drive-by shooting in Manchester.

No one had been arrested in connection with last night's shooting.