Manhunt ongoing following shooting of boy (7) and mother on doorstep
Incident linked to the murder of gangland criminal "Mr Big"
A manhunt was continuing tonight after the shooting of a mother and her seven-year-old son was linked to the murder of a gangland "Mr Big".
The victims, named locally as Jayne Hickey, 29, and her son Christian, had gone to the door to be confronted by two men looking for someone else.
After a "short" exchange on the doorstep one suspect has then used a gun to fire three shots "at close range" hitting the mother twice in the leg and the boy once.
Bank worker Mrs Hickey and her son are in a serious but stable condition in hospital following the attack at 9.25pm on Gillingham Road in the Winton area of Salford.
Detectives said today the shooting is potentially linked to the murder of security boss Paul Massey, 55, in Salford in July, and a feud between rival gangs in the Swinton and central Salford area of the city which has so far seen at least five shootings.
Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson, of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), described last night's incident as "absolutely horrible".
Rival criminals are understood to be involved in drug dealing, loan sharking and extortion, but Mr Jackson said the gang war may also be over other issues.
He said: "It is very difficult to understand what the feuds are about. But what I can say is that it's got all the hallmarks of a feud over disrespect.
"These incidents often start not necessarily over drugs but over a degree of disrespect shown to each other."
The injured youngster is likely to be in hospital for another seven days.
Speaking at a press conference at Salford town hall with the city's political leaders, Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: "This is a sickening and cowardly attack on a seven-year-old boy and his mother at their home.
"The level of criminal recklessness is putting innocent people at risk, and this has to stop."
A second feud, unconnected to last night's attack and centred on another area of the city, Little Hulton, has also broken out, with at least six shootings linked.
Mr Hopkins said gun crime was "absolutely not" out of control in the city and a major police operation involving 50 detectives was already running in Salford, targeting organised crime, with 30 guns seized since January, dozens of arrests and armed response units working around the clock.
"The shootings we have had are part of two distinct feuds between organised crime groups here in Salford," he said.
He appealed for the public's help to break down what has been called a "wall of silence" protecting crime gangs.
Mr Hopkins added: "I would ask for people to search their souls and for people to come forward with information to end these disputes and particularly to help us detect the horrific incident that occurred last night."
Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester Tony Lloyd said police will do everything they can, but asked the community to help officers
He said: "I think it is a matter of fact that the police have been hampered by the silence coming from those who know in the past."
Salford has suffered a series of shootings since Massey was gunned down outside his home in the city on July 26.
A father-of-five, he was a well-known figure in his home city of Salford, and had been involved in security firms operating in Manchester and beyond.
Last night, a £50,000 reward was put up for information during an appeal on BBC TV's Crimewatch programme - as the latest attack was launched in Salford.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 5345 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.