Murder hunt launched as shooting victim dies

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The Independent Online
POLICE have launched a murder investigation after robbers shot a 23-year-old man in front of his teenage girlfriend when he refused to hand over jewellery.

Detectives said they were shocked by the 'frightening' level of violence used in the attack on David Clarke, of Kensal Rise, north-west London, while he was walking near his home on Friday.

Mr Clarke, an unemployed tailor, died in St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, on Sunday night after spending two days on a life support machine. His parents and his girlfriend, a care worker, had spent the weekend by his bedside.

He was first approached by two young black men who 'jeered and goaded' him before tearing a pounds 200 gold chain, a gift from his girlfriend, from his neck. The robbers ran off but a few minutes later the couple were attacked again by six black men who demanded Mr Clarke's gold rings.

The muggers ignored Mr Clarke's girlfriend's pleas to leave him alone. Mr Clarke resisted and one man punched him in the face while another grabbed him and shot him above the eyes with a semi-automatic handgun. It is not clear whether the group included the two men involved in the first attack.

Last night Det Supt Peter Slade, who is heading the inquiry, said robbery appeared to have been the main motive but the level of violence seemed to question that. A possible drugs link was not being ruled out but there was no evidence that the victim had drugs contacts.

Mr Slade described the attack as a 'cold-blooded shooting, completely unprovoked'. He confirmed that Mr Clarke's girlfriend, who has not been named, may have recognised some of the attackers.