Girl (5) fights for life after being shot in teen gang war
Published 31/03/2011 | 05:00
A five-year-old girl is in a critical condition in hospital after being caught in crossfire when teenage gangsters opened fire on rivals.
The girl, named locally as Thusa Kamaleswaran, was shot in the chest. A 35-year-old man, known as Seela, was hit in the face. The shootings happened inside a news-agent's shop in Stockwell, south London, on Tuesday.
The girl, who was visiting a relative at the store with her mother, is one of Britain's youngest victims of gun crime.
Police said the girl and the man, who are said to be Sri Lankan but not related, were innocent victims of a gangland feud.
The intended victims, two youths, had run into the store and were hiding when their rivals, three other youths, opened fire from outside. The suspects escaped on bicycles.
Vicknes Mahadevan (33), the girl's uncle, said: "I was at the back of the shop then heard something. I rushed out and could see the shooting.
"Thusa was hit on the right side of her chest and Seela was hit at the top of his nose. There was blood everywhere. Thusa was flat on the floor. It was horrible."
Kirubakaran Nanthees-paran, a friend of the shop owners, saw the shootings.
"I saw the gun right next to me. I heard the shots fired. At first we thought they had been hit by bottles but there was too much blood," she said.
"The girl was lying on the ground and the mum ran over to her. She screamed 'call the police, call the police'. There was so much blood. It was everywhere."
Mareh Silva (34), who lives nearby, said she was coming out of the shop with friends when she saw three youths, faces covered with scarves and balaclavas, drop their bikes outside. "I looked in and saw a lot of blood on the floor but I didn't want to look at what had happened and I was very scared," she said.
Video filmed by a neighbour shows paramedics treating the girl on the street for more than 10 minutes before moving her on a stretcher into an ambulance. Other footage from a nearby shop's CCTV shows the two intended victims on bicycles outside the shop minutes before the attack.
A member of staff said footage seized by the police showed the gunman open fire.
"Three little gangsters come up to the door. They were black and young, maybe teenagers. We see them on the camera pull the gun out right outside the shop. They started shooting. They run off the opposite way from the shop. The others followed them out after that."
Stockwell Road was sealed while forensics officers searched for evidence. Det Ch Insp Tony Boughton said the male victim lived in a flat above the shop.
"This is a very serious case. They could have died and may still do," he said.
"The assumption at the moment is that the firearm is fired through the open door because there is no damage on the outside." (© Daily Telegraph, London)