Sunday 26 January 2020

Shooting victim described as 'innocent child caught up in postcode war' as second teenager dies

So far this year 48 people have been murdered in London

Tanesha Melbourne PA Wire
Tanesha Melbourne PA Wire

Patrick Sawer, Martin Evans, Helena Horton and Robert Mendick

The 17-year-old girl killed in a drive-by shooting on Easter Monday was described by close friends yesterday as “just an innocent child caught up in this stupid postcode war”.

The death of Tanesha Melbourne capped a terrifying weekend of violence on London’s streets which saw three people murdered and three left fighting for their lives after being stabbed or shot.

While Tanesha lay dying in Tottenham, another teenager aged 16, was shot in the face in Walthamstow a few miles away. Police said he died in hospital with his family by his bedside on Tuesday evening.

A 15-year-old boy, also discovered at the scene, was treated for stab injuries which are no longer life-changing and he was subsequently been released from hospital.

David Lammy, the local MP in Tottenham where one of the teenagers was killed, said he had requested an urgent meeting with Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Mr Lammy said the violence was bring driven by drug turf wars and criticised the government's funding cuts for police.

"We need to bring down the gangsters," he said.

Family and friends of Tanesha said the killings were being driven by tit-for-tat killings in which gangs were “keeping score” on social media sites of shootings and stabbings.

One possible explanation for Tanesha’s murder was that a gang from a neighbouring area had taken revenge after one of their members was beaten up in fast food restaurant. Footage of the incident was uploaded to social media.

A total of 22 people were murdered across the capital during March, thought to be one of the bloodiest months for more than a decade. The murder rate is said to have exceeded New York’s.

In total, 48 people have been murdered in London in the first three months of the year with 2018 set to rival 2003, in which 203 people were killed - as the bloodiest on record.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said murder rates were not collected on a month by month basis making it impossible to say if March 2018 had been the worst ever.

Tanesha was chatting with friends in the street just yards from her home in Tottenham when she was shot in the chest as a car drove past just after 9.30pm. Paramedics battled for more than an hour to keep her alive but she died where she had been gunned down in Chalgrove Road. It is understood her mother Sharon Melbourne watched her daughter die.

Later she left a message with flowers close by that read: “To my baby Nesha, I’m going to miss you so much. You’re always going to be with me everywhere I go. Love mummy.”

Tanesha’s grandmother, Kathleen Kingdom, said: “I’m still trying to process what’s happened. I’m so raw. She was a happy girl, with lots of friends. She never got into trouble. She didn’t have any bad friends.”

A friend of Miss Melbourne said: “Tanesha was just an innocent child caught up in this stupid post code war.”

The mother of one of Tanesha’s friends gave a terrifying account of the moments that followed the attack.

The woman, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions, said her daughter came running home to tell her the 17-year-old has been shot barely 100 yards away.

She said: “The first I heard was a knock on the door from one of my girls saying ‘Mum, Tanesha’s been shot’.”

The 43-year-old mother of six ran out and found Tanesha lying stricken on the pavement.

“They put her in the recovery position. I couldn’t see any blood. I couldn’t see where she was hurt. Her eyes were open and she was shallow breathing. We thought she was having a fit,” she said

First on the scene were armed police, followed shortly after by paramedics who attempted to revive Tanesha.

“People were crying, huddled in groups. When her mother came she was crying. Someone had rung her,” said the woman. “I can’t imagine what she’s going through now.”

The woman added: “I spoke to a young lady who said a car had come up and fired shots. A bullet even went through a neighbours window and they rang police straight away.”

Tanesha had spent the earlier part of the day at the local youth centre, where she was a mentor to some of the younger children. She was a popular girl, who had never been in any trouble, said friends.

Police said they were keeping an ‘open mind’ to the motive but friends suggested she had been caught up in the cross-fire of local gang rivalry between youths in Tottenham neighbouring Wood Green and Edmonton. The family friend said: “It’s not one thing to blame. There’s social media - with these kids writing things against each other, provoking each other about what they’ve done.

“The kids know where they can’t go, where it’s not safe, but they also don’t feel safe coming home from school. It’s heartbreaking.

“We’re in the middle of a war zone here. They’ll just come in from another area and if they see someone ‘slipping’ as they say, they’ll go after them.”

On Twitter, one young woman claimed that gangs were posting killings on the social media sites Instagram and Snapchat. The woman wrote: “There is a score board & all of these london gangs are taking notes of who splashes/smokes [stabs/shoots] who, so they can add it to their score board.”

Police have increased patrols after the shooting in Walthamstow.

Officers were called to Markhouse Road at around 10pm on Monday to reports that shots had been fired.

Acting Chief Superintendent Tania Coulson said: "Yesterday was a shocking night for all of us in Waltham Forest which left two young men suffering terrible injuries; one of whom has now died.

"We are doing all we can to address community concerns.

"Over the past 24 hours we have had extra officers patrolling the streets, additional police cars on the road and specialist officers from our Operation Sceptre unit carrying out a range of intelligence led operations and patrols.

"I would like to reassure members of this community that this strong police presence will continue."

Ms Coulson said Section 60, an intelligence led pre-authorised power to stop and search, has been in place since Monday and will be until at least the early hours of Wednesday.

"My officers have been on the streets using this power really effectively, seizing knives, stopping cars of young men carrying weapons and making arrests," she added.

Scotland Yard said no arrests have been made and inquiries are continuing into the incident in Walthamstow, revealing that the homicide and major crime command are investigating alongside the Trident area crime command.

A 15-year-old boy, also discovered at the scene in Walthamstow, was treated for stab injuries which are no longer life-changing and he was subsequently been released from hospital, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Glenn Butler from the Trident and area crime command said he fully appreciates the "alarm, shock and revulsion" caused by the Walthamstow murder and other fatal shootings.

Some are blaming budget cuts for the spate of attacks.

London's mayor Sadiq Khan, who has devolved powers over policing, blamed Theresa May's government for underfunding the police.

He said the force had faced more than £600 million in central government grant cuts since 2011, leading to the large-scale loss of police staff and facilities.

"Government cuts have decimated services for young Londoners across our city," he wrote on Twitter Tuesday, reacting to a post from Labour MP Dawn Butler criticising Downing Street.

"You can't protect people on the cheap," she had warned.

Larry Logan, a former police superintendent in east London, told AFP the city is facing "a perfect storm" of reduced police numbers and "decimated" social services due to funding cuts.

He said "overworked" detectives are retiring or quitting as they struggle with the caseloads.

Citing a recent conversation with a homicide detective, he said: "in his 35 years, he's never known it so overwhelming... they're just leaving in their droves."

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News