Girl hit by stray bullet in street gunfight: Police investigate drugs link after gangs clash outside Brixton wine bar

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The Independent Online
A 13-YEAR-OLD girl was recovering in hospital last night after being caught in a gunfight between two rival gangs outside a south London wine bar.

Detectives were last night still trying to establish what lay behind the shooting in the centre of Brixton, south London, and are working on the assumption that drugs, probably crack, may have been involved. They are also looking for links with other drugs-related shootings in the area, including several murders.

Their task was being hampered by the fact that although there were a large number of witnesses, including many children, most fled the area afterwards in terror. At least two others are refusing to assist detectives.

It is believed that at least two guns were used and three shots were fired, one of which hit Katrina Bernhard, of West Norwood, south London, in the left shoulder.

Detective Inspector Andy Gardner, who is leading the investigation, last night appealed for witnesses to come forward. 'It is of extreme concern to us when a youngster gets caught up in something like this.

'People have been shot in this area before but what makes this so horrendous is that a totally innocent bystander has been injured.'

Katrina had just left her family in the wine bar, which was packed with children who had been taken to a 'family day' at the establishment, in search of take-away food.

She was not badly injured and initially ran away, before being found by police and taken to hospital. She is expected to be released later in the week. Detectives are waiting to interview her.

Police are unsure whether the rival gangs were on opposite sides of the road or directly outside the wine bar or how many were involved.

'We believe that Katrina was standing close by someone who was a target, but apart from that we know very little,' a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said.

Anthony Pommell, manager of Steppers wine bar, said last night that there were about 130 people inside the building and another 200 outside trying to get in, mostly children.

He said: 'They were all youngsters and these people knew that; they just didn't care. All I saw was three youths running off and getting into a car. They were only about 18 years old themselves.'

'We are a very close-knit community here and we are all totally shocked.

'I run a summer project here so the kids can come and enjoy themselves every Sunday. The mothers bring them and feel confident that they will be safe and have a good time. But after this I don't think I will be holding it any more.'

He said it was possible the row between the gangs had begun at a reggae festival held in a park near by earlier in the day.

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