New lead in hunt for gang who shot girl (5)
Published 01/04/2011 | 05:00
A teenager targeted by gangsters who accidentally shot five-year-old Thursha Kamaleswaran came out of hiding last night to help detectives find the gun attackers.
The youth told officers he cowered behind shop shelves as the little girl and another bystander were caught in the crossfire of a suspected botched turf war attack inside a shop in south London.
Relatives are maintaining vigils at Thursha's hospital bedside while detectives build up a "continuity trail" of the attackers' movements.
Meanwhile, police are beefing up their presence around Stockwell Food and Wine store as sources said up to 50 gangs were operating in the south London area.
Extra police support -- including several specialist Territorial Support Group officers -- have been called in to provide help to reassure locals that there are no "tit for tat" retaliation attacks.
Close family friend Velluppillai Navaratnam (49), from Croydon, south London, said it was a "very difficult time" for Thursha's relatives.
"The parents of Thursha are at the hospital now," he said. "We are all praying for her to get well soon."
Thursha -- believed to be London's youngest gun crime victim -- was hit in the chest and Roshan Selvakumar (35) suffered a head wound as two black youths cowered in the store after being chased by three other black youths on bicycles.
Detectives revealed her 12-year-old brother, three-year-old sister and mother had been in the shop but were unhurt during the shooting on Tuesday night. The store's owners are the children's aunt and uncle.
Crimestoppers is offering a £50,000 (€56,566) reward for information leading to the gun attackers' capture, it was also announced.
Detective Chief Inspector Tony Boughton told reporters at the scene that officers "are beginning to get a clearer picture" after one of two black youths who ran into the shop to flee the attack came forward.
"We are still trying to trace the other individual and appeal to him to come forward," he said.
Initial forensic reports support witness statements that two shots were fired.
"There's a lot of CCTV in the area and we are trying to follow a continuity trail to find the youths responsible," Mr Boughton said.
He said they had already had a good response from the local community.
The three attackers, who a witness said were aged between 14 and 17, fled from the Stockwell Road shop along Broomgrove Road and into the Stockwell Park Estate.
The victims, both Sri Lankan and unrelated, were rushed to hospital in south London and both remain in a critical but stable condition.
Chief Superintendent Nick Ephgrave called for people in the area to come forward if they have information about the "truly shocking event".