Gang targets sought after Stockwell shooting

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Police were tonight hunting three youths for shooting a five-year-old girl and a shopkeeper.

The child, believed to be London's youngest gun crime victim, is now fighting for her life in hospital after being shot in the chest.



The 35-year-old shopkeeper was shot in the head.



The two bystanders were injured while inside Stockwell Food and Wine Shop in south London at 9.15pm yesterday.



They were hit as two black youths cowered in the store after being chased by three other black youths on bicycles.



As the pair hid inside, the gunman stopped at the door and opened fire indiscriminately.



Police are not sure how many bullets were fired.



The three attackers, who a witness said were aged between 14 and 17, fled as their intended targets chased them on foot from the Stockwell Road shop along Broomgrove Road and into Stockwell Park Estate.



The victims were rushed to hospital in south London.



The girl was visiting relatives when the attackers struck.



As they remained in critical condition, Detective Chief Inspector Tony Boughton urged witnesses to come forward.



He said: "This is a terrible incident where an innocent child has been seriously injured.



"We want to hear from the local community, who might have seen these youths cycling around the estate between 9pm and 10pm.



"I appeal to those who have information or were involved in this shooting to come forward and assist us with this investigation.



"These criminals have seriously injured two innocent bystanders and must face the consequences of their actions."



Mr Boughton said the girl was the youngest gun crime victim he knew of and appealed to the intended targets to help bring justice to her family.



"They are an important part in helping us understand exactly what was happening and should be able to direct us to those responsible," he said.



He added that the injured pair "could have died and may still do".



Horrified witness Mareh Silva, 34, was leaving the convenience store with friends at around 9pm. She said she saw three black youths aged between 14 and 17 drop their bikes outside.



The boys' faces were covered with black scarves and balaclavas and she could only see their eyes as they ran into the shop.



"I looked in and saw a lot of blood on the floor but I didn't want to look at what had happened, and I was very scared," she said.



Peter Robbins, one of three Lambeth councillors representing the area, said: "It is incredibly shocking. I think the whole community at the moment is numb and horrified, and rightly so.



"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. Obviously, there is always more you can do and incidents like this really bring that home."



Barny Stutter, 45, co-owner of nearby Brixton Cycles, said workers in the area's fast-food shops were regularly hassled by yobs. He said he hoped the police got to the three before residents did.



"We are absolutely disgusted with what's happened," he said.





"I am sure they will be caught but it is disgusting.



"This area has recovered from a bad reputation built up in the media but we love to live and work in the community."



Rachel Heywood, Lambeth Council cabinet member for community safety, said: "Tackling serious violence is a major priority for this council.



"A crime like this is hugely shocking and we will of course do everything in our power to assist the police with their investigation.



"Our thoughts are with the victims and their families at what must be an extremely distressing time."



Witnesses or anyone with information are asked to call police on 0300 123 1212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.