Former rugby league star shot dead in pub attack

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The Independent Online

Two men, including a former Rugby League professional, who were shot dead by a masked gunman in a crowded pub in Leeds, may have been victims of a gang war.

A hitman walked through a group of children who were playing party games at the Wilson's Arms and shot David Nelson, 38, in the head at close range on Sunday afternoon.

A second man, Joseph Montgomery, 39, was also shot in the face and critically wounded when he threw a beer glass at the gunman in an attempt to intervene. Mr Montgomery, who is not thought to have been the target of the killer, died in hospital yesterday afternoon.

Police are investigating whether the killing is part of a series of tit-for-tat shootings between crime gangs in the area.

Mr Nelson had been the target of a murder attempt three days earlier when he was shot outside the same pub in Seacroft on Thursday evening and suffered minor injuries to his head. The incident had not been reported to police.

One mother, whose daughter was at the children's party in the pub, said: "The DJ spotted him [the gunman] and shouted at him to get out, saying 'there's children in here'.

"Then the kids were told to get down on the floor."

The killer, who was wearing a balaclava, walked into the pub's pool room and shot Mr Nelson from several yards away. Mr Montgomery was then shot as the gunman left.

The masked man fled to a car outside and got in the passenger seat. The driver, who was also wearing a balaclava, drove away at speed.

Mr Nelson was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. Mr Montgomery died yesterday, with his family at his bedside.

Detective Superintendent Eddie Hemsley, who is heading the murder inquiry, said: "We aim to catch those responsible for this cold-blooded killing as soon as possible. We will not tolerate this kind of violence on the streets of Leeds."

He appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Mr Nelson, who had a seven-year-old daughter, and Mr Montgomery, who has three children and was known to his friends as Jock, were both regulars in the pub and lived nearby.

A motive for the killing has not yet been established

Mr Nelson signed as a professional rugby player for Sheffield Eagles in 1987 at the same pub where he was killed.

As well as Sheffield, Mr Nelson played for Castleford and Wakefield, where he finished his rugby career in 1995.

A winger, he played at Wembley in 1992 for Castleford, who lost to Wigan in the Challenge Cup Final. He scored 50 tries during his professional career.

Mr Nelson's former team-mate, Mark Aston, said: "He was a happy-go-lucky guy who wore his heart on his sleeve. He was passionate about his game and was one of the nicest men you could possibly meet."

The double murder is one of a recent spate of shootings in Leeds. On Sunday 15 July, two men were shot in the legs outside the West Indian Centre in Chapeltown, Leeds. Hours later, a man was killed and three were injured when gunmen opened fire at them in a car park at the Hayfield pub in Chapeltown.

A fortnight earlier, a man was seriously injured in a shooting on the Little London estate in the centre of Leeds.

The latest shootings come after a similar outbreak of gun incidents in the city last year.