Motorist killed in drive-by shooting 'was targeted'

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A motorist who was killed in a drive-by shooting after he stopped at a set of traffic lights in Merseyside was deliberately targeted, police believe.

The 23-year-old man was shot several times as he waited at a busy junction in Crosby, a suburb of Liverpool, at around 11.20pm on Saturday. His girlfriend, who was sitting in the passenger seat of the red Ford Transit van, escaped with minor injuries.

Merseyside Police said the victim, who has not been named, was already known to officers and while the motive remains unclear, the murder is being treated as a targeted attack. "This is somebody's son who was shot dead in the street. He didn't deserve to die like that. The bullets could have struck anybody and we will not tolerate the criminal use of guns," said Detective Chief Inspector Tony Doherty, who is leading the inquiry."

He added that the victim's van was about two or three cars back in the queue at traffic lights when a silver Audi pulled up alongside and the gunman opened fire.

Police are still trying to identify how many shots were fired. Witness statements suggest the gunman fired a number of rounds before pausing as the Audi reversed, then firing several more times. The car was then driven off and was later abandoned and set on fire in a nearby cul-de-sac.

The shots were fired on Crosby Road North, next to a pub that was full of customers. People ran to help the van driver and his girlfriend, who was taken to hospital with minor cuts from the shattered glass.

"What happened to her ... what she witnessed, was horrific and she is very traumatised," Det Ch Insp Doherty said. "There were many people in the area and we know other motorists and those in the pub provided help and assistance to the victims.... We would ask that others who were around Crosby Road North and Fairfield Close get in touch with us because anything they saw might help the investigation."

Detectives are now trying to establish whether the victim was followed and if the perpetrators planned the location of the shooting and their escape route in advance. The crime scene remains cordoned off and the two vehicles have been taken away for forensic examination. Police are appealing to anyone who may have seen the Transit van or the Audi earlier on Saturday.