Man murdered in drive-by shooting

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The Independent Online

One man was murdered and another injured in a drive-by shooting in the Home Counties yesterday.

The shooting, outside a health club in the market town of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, took place at 9.20am when two gunmen pulled up in a van and opened fire with an automatic weapon at the two victims, who were standing outside the Physical Limit gym in Brewery Road. Nearby cars were sprayed with bullets.

The men then fled in the Peugeot van, which was later found abandoned and on fire about half a mile away.

One man is thought to have been shot in the chest and legs and died on his way to hospital. The other received minor wounds. One of the victims was reported to be the new owner of the gym, while other reports suggested the two men were bodybuilders leaving the club.

One witness described finding the dying man on the pavement. "My girlfriend and I were in the back room of our house when we heard 'bang, bang, bang' - it happened about three times in quick succession," he said.

"I ran out to the front room and there was no vehicle in sight. I walked down and there was a body on the ground.

"There were two guys standing over him and I ran over to help and see if there was anything I could do.

"The man was bloodied and laying on the ground by a car. He had bullet wounds to his chest and legs. I just tried to get some towels and compress the wound to stop the bleeding."

A bullet-scarred blue Peugeot sports car, which had all its windows shot out in the attack, was taken from the scene yesterday afternoon.

Another witness added: "It looked like they came down the hill on the other side of the road, pulled up close, and opened up through the car. It looked like shots were fired through the car. It looked like him [the victim] and a friend were coming out of a health centre and both were injured."

Police are still trying to establish a motive for the attack. They are investigating possible drug links and disputes involving local criminals. The injured man is helping police with the murder hunt.

Dave Holtby, whose shop is opposite the scene, said: "We heard several shots at about 9.20 this morning.

"It's not something you expect on your doorstep at any time of day, especially in a quiet town like Hoddesdon."