Target of gang who shot girl hands himself in to police

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The Independent Online

Detectives hunting gang members who shot a five-year-old girl arrested a 19-year-old man yesterday afternoon.

Scotland Yard said the teenager was arrested in south London in connection with their investigation into the shooting.

He was being held at a south London police station while their inquiries continued.

Officers also revealed that one of the youths who had been the intended target of the attack, in which bystander Thursha Kamaleswaran was hit, had come forward.

The youth has contacted investigating officers, who said they were developing a clearer picture of the crime.

The family's pebble-dashed, suburban home in Ilford – a far cry from the violence of south London – was eerily quiet as Thursha's family remained at her bedside at the hospital. The good news was she has finally opened her eyes after emerging from a medically induced coma, following three bouts of surgery.

Thursha had been with her mother Sharmila, 12-year-old brother and three-year-old sister, visiting her uncle at the Stockwell Food and Wine Shop in Lambeth on Tuesday night when they were caught up in the attack.

Three youths on bicycles, masked with scarves and balaclavas, chased two others from the direction of the Stockwell Park Estate. All were said to be teenagers. As the two dashed into the shop for cover, the three others stood at the door and fired indiscriminately into the store, hitting Thursha in the chest and a 35-year-old, named locally as Roshan Selvakumar, 35, in the face. Both victims are of Sri Lankan origin.

Mr Selvakumar, who lives above the shop, was said to be improving, in a stable condition and able to speak a few words. But Thursha, described as a "quiet and shy" child, was still critical. Her uncle Vicknes Mahadevan, 33, told the EveningStandard: "She's awake. She's with her mum and dad in intensive care. Only her close family are being allowed in. The doctors have said she is doing much better. Everyone's relieved. We've all been so worried about her."

Cousin Thulasi Thiru, 22, said Thursha's mother was distraught, and "too scared to look at her".

Family friend Velluppillai Navaratnam, 49, said: "It has been a very difficult time for family and friends. "The parents of Thursha are at the hospital now. We are all praying for her to get well soon."

Detective Chief Inspector Tony Boughton, who is leading the investigation for Operation Trident, revealed that progress was being made.

"We are beginning to get a clearer picture of what happened," he said. "One of the youths who first ran into the shop has come forward to police and is assisting us with our inquiries.

"We are still trying to trace the other individual and appeal to him to come forward."

As officers continued to carry out fingertip searches and look through CCTV footage, Scotland Yard said the evidence was being examined to see if it could be linked to other crimes.

"There's a lot of CCTV in the area and we are trying to follow a continuity trail to find the youths responsible," DCI Boughton said. "We continue to appeal to anyone who might have seen these three youths cycling around Stockwell between 8pm and 10pm on Tuesday night."

Crimestoppers is offering a £50,000 reward for information leading to the attackers' capture.