‘We were scared to go out’: Shoreditch residents left living in fear in aftermath of crossbow attacks

Neighbours speak of avoiding windows and rushing through square in days after first attack

Barney Davis
Monday 18 March 2024 20:20 GMT
A 47-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder
A 47-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder (Barney Davis)

Residents of a quiet east London square have spoken of living in fear after a 20-year-old man and a mother-of-two were injured in two crossbow attacks 10 days apart.

A manhunt was launched earlier this month after a 44-year-old woman, named locally as Nazarine Cazley, was shot in the head just yards from her family home in Shoreditch as she travelled home from work at 7.44pm on 4 March.

Ten days later, a 20-year-old man was shot in the neck by a crossbow bolt shortly before 7.30pm as he sat on a bench near Arnold Circus, around 60 metres from the scene of the first attack outside Clifton House.

A 47-year-old man has now been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Police said he was searched and a knuckle duster and a bottle containing a substance were found when he was detained in Shoreditch on Sunday night.

Neighbours have since told of living in fear in the days after the first attack, with many avoiding windows and rushing through the square as quickly as possible before the arrest was announced on Monday.

Ten days after the incident, near Arnold Circus in Shoreditch (Barney Davis)

Mother-of-two Subera Rabby told The Independent she rushed to help Nazarine after hearing her scream.

She said: “The ambulance crew were asking me to hold down the wound but I couldn’t, there was an arrow stuck in there. She kept [trying] to dislodge it.

“She said she was trying to pull it out but the more she tried the more it hurt. She ran home screaming ‘somebody shot me’.”

Ms Rabby also claimed there was a “really bad” lack of communication from police, saying: “We thought we were going crazy. That gap was terrifying - the first week everyone was watching over the shoulder, looking at windows it could have come from.

“Now I drop my kids off a 10-minute detour to school that used to take me a minute to get to. You can’t carry on living like that.

“Even after drop-off I was literally covering my back of my head with my hand. I was scared. I thought if I get shot at least it will hit my hand - not my head. Some children are sleeping with the parents now.”

Subera Rabby has told of how she rushed to help the motherof-two (Sky News)

She also called on the council to put up better lighting and CCTV to deter further attacks on the “peaceful and quiet” circus.

She added: “Everyone was really scared. We were on high alert, scared to go out. Our WhatsApp groups were blowing up it could have been any of us. We were all told it could have been deadly if it was a child or elderly person.”

One mother-of-one, living in the same block as Nazarine, said: “We had 10 days of nothing from the police. I stayed away from windows in our flat in case they shot inside.

“Every time I looked out at the circus it felt like it was looking back at me. We needed reassurance and we felt really vulnerable. I do feel we were left at risk for those days before the second attack.”

The Metropolitan Police said officers searched the suspect's home close to Arnold Circus and found a crossbow, knives and other weapons, all of which have been sent for forensic examination.

(Barney Davis)

Two days after his wife was attacked, Clifton Cazley stuck hand-written notices around Arnold Circus, where a two-bedroom former council flat can cost up to £700,000, offering a “cash reward” to help him get “justice”. He wrote: “It could have been you or your kids.”

Mr Cazley previously told the Sunday Times: “I rushed outside and saw a bolt in the back of her head, behind her right ear. There was blood coming out. She was in so much pain and she eventually collapsed.”

He added: “I have no faith in the police. It’s only after a second person was attacked that they’ve decided to send all these officers out.”

DCS James Conway, responsible for policing in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, said: “I’m acutely aware of the level of concern in the community following these awful attacks.

“Since the first incident the police response has been immediate and dynamic, with my detectives leading a significant investigation involving CCTV trawls, intelligence and forensic work, whilst my neighbourhood teams have been engaged in public appeals and reassurance patrols.

“We have been strongly supported by our partners, particularly the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The arrest last night was a significant development in our investigation, but this remains a complex and ongoing policing operation.

“I can also confirm that our inquiries led to the seizure of another crossbow weapon in the period between the two attacks, which is now being dealt with as part of a separate investigation. I’d like to thank local people for their valuable support and would urge anyone still yet to talk to police to do so as soon as possible.

“We have received significant and crucial support from our local communities to date. Enhanced numbers of my officers will remain in the area and you can speak with them at any time if you believe you have information that is relevant.”

The government is considering tightening the laws on crossbows so that they are put under regulations similar to those around firearms. Currently, anyone over 18 can legally buy a crossbow, but if they are found to be carrying it in public without a reasonable excuse they could get up to four years in prison.

In a separate incident in January, Bryce Hodgson, 30, was shot dead by police after he broke into a house in London armed with weapons including a crossbow and a sword.

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