Police release CCTV footage showing rioters firing at officers

Footage of hooded thugs firing shots at police officers and a force helicopter during this month's riots has been released.

West Midlands Police have taken the "unusual step" in issuing the CCTV images of a group of 30 to 40 young men in the Newtown area of Birmingham on the night of Tuesday August 9.

They hope the "disturbing" footage will encourage members of the public to come forward.

The force said the group, all masked and all wearing black clothing, caused extensive damage at the Barton Arms pub in Newtown and the surrounding area.

As police arrived at the scene, petrol bombs were thrown at a marked police car at around 11.50pm and as officers attempted to disperse the group, 11 shots were fired at them and at a force helicopter.

A spokesman said a small amount of money was stolen from the pub, but the use of alcohol and petrol leads police to believe that the intention was to start a fire.

A major investigation into arson with intent to endanger life and attempted murder was launched.

Detectives, forensic and ballistic experts, along with local officers, have trawled CCTV footage and made house-to-house inquiries.

Chief Constable Chris Sims said: "Releasing footage that is so disturbing in nature is an unusual step for us as a force, however, the potential for serious harm, or worse, in this incident has led us to this decision.

"Eleven shots were fired at unarmed officers to enable disorder to continue, whilst petrol bombs were also thrown at officers who initially attended the scene.

"This footage shows seemingly co-ordinated criminal behaviour with no regard for people's lives, whether it be through the setting of a fire, shooting at unarmed officers or shooting at the police helicopter.

"This investigation is being treated as attempted murder and arson, and I am only thankful that this is not a murder inquiry.

"This was not only police officers' lives that were put at risk, but also members of the public who may have been passing by.

"To date the public reaction to this operation has been overwhelming and we thank people for their continued support.

"However, I must ask once again that anyone who can help our investigation to come forward." PA