Neighbours escape gun and firebomb attack

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The Independent Online

Two sets of neighbours had a lucky escape after one house was petrol bombed and a shot fired through next door's front window.

Six people including three young children were sleeping when a flaming milk bottle was thrown through their living room window in Stepney, east London.



The incidents early yesterday followed an argument between a cyclist outside the firebombed house and a driver who reportedly threatened to shoot him, the Metropolitan Police said.



According to the force, the cyclist was getting on his bike when a black VW Golf collided with him and knocked him down just before midnight on Wednesday, grazing his leg.



The pair clashed, with the driver suffering a cut head and the police being called.



But tempers calmed down and the driver - described as black and in his late 20s/early 30s - left the scene.



Two and a half hours later a gunshot was heard, shortly before the petrol bomb was thrown through the house in Antill Terrace.



Sleeping upstairs were a couple and three boys aged one month, three and five. The three year old suffers from cerebral palsy.



A relative - a 24-year-old man - was also sleeping downstairs in the lounge where the bottle was thrown.



Firefighters were called to put out the blaze and no-one was injured.



Police called to investigate found a bullet hole in next door's front window, and a round on the floor. The occupant was also unharmed.



Det Insp Stewart Garrick of Tower Hamlets CID, investigating with colleagues from black gun crime unit Trident, said: "These cowardly attacks have needlessly threatened the lives of the occupants of two addresses.



"Clearly a strong line of inquiry is that the shooting and arson could be linked to the earlier altercation involving a car driver, especially as we now know he had allegedly threatened to shoot the cyclist.



"I appeal to anyone who witnessed the exchange between the cyclist and the driver, or the incidents in the early hours of Thursday morning, to come forward.



"It is essential that anyone with information does make it known, as this could so easily have resulted in a murder inquiry."