Uncle of murdered boy pleads for witnesses

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The Independent Online

The uncle of a 16-year-old boy shot dead in Sheffield on Wednesday has called on the local community to come together to catch his nephew's killers and "get them out of our street".

The teenager was named yesterday as Jonathan Matondo. He was found by paramedics at about 7.30pm on Wednesday in the recreation area at Nottingham Cliff in the Burngreave Park area of the city.

His uncle, Armand Villa, said: "He was only 16, much too young to die, and much too loved by his friends, family, and the community. He was such a good boy, so funny. This should not happen to our community, this should not happen to my Jonathan."

Police have confirmed that Jonathan died from a shot to the head. There were unconfirmed reports last night that local residents had heard a number of shots up to two hours before the victim's body was found. Armed police officers continued to patrol the scene near Andover Street last night.

Detectives were investigating whether the shooting was related to another gun incident in the city 24 hours earlier. The Sheffield police commander, Chief Superintendent Jon House, said there no were no injuries in the earlier incident but refused to given any further details. He said officers were examining links between the two incidents and another shooting in the city six weeks ago, in which a 16-year-old boy was injured.

Jonathan was described by police yesterday as a member of "a respectable local family".

Ch Supt House said: "It is only with the help of the community, who are obviously very shocked by this crime, that we will be able to bring those responsible to justice. Any information will be treated confidentially and appropriate protection will be offered to witnesses who assist."

Richard Caborn, the MP for Sheffield Central, claimed police were "very confident" that their investigations would lead to arrests. "I am in constant contact with South Yorkshire Police and I will be having a direct meeting with them tomorrow regarding this incident," he said.

"I will also be asking the question, 'How can people get access to guns?', which in this instance has led to the tragic loss of life. I am calling on the people of Sheffield to co-operate fully with the police so that this type of incident cannot happen again in our city."

Gun crime in Sheffield is rare compared with London, Manchester and Nottingham. Ch Supt House had earlier tried to reassure residents by declaring that Sheffield was "the safest city in the country".

Jonathan was shot less than a mile from the street in the Pitsmoor area where a taxi driver, Younis Khan was murdered in March.

Burngreave Park residents believe Jonathan's murder is the culmination of months of tension between gangs.

Robert Smith, who edits the local community newsletter, said: "We have reached a new level of inner-city warfare that is seeing young people firing guns as though playing a video amusement game with life." He said gangs were "killing the innocent and involving those never before involved in their issues or disputes, other than being associated with those they have the issue with".

Douglas Johnson, a local advice worker, said many people in the community felt the incident was fuelled by drug dealing. "This is what happens when drug dealing activity goes on," he said. "Kids get involved and start playing with guns".