A TURF war between rival drug gangs is thought to be behind a spate of tit-for-tat shootings that have spilled on to the streets of Bootle, Liverpool.
Four teenagers were gunned down in a single attack on Saturday night around 11.30pm – the fifth shooting in the town in just over a week.
A 15-year-old boy and three 17-year-old males were last night recovering in hospital after being shot in the Akenside Street area.
Detectives are treating the shootings as a targeted attack and believe they are linked to the four other shootings in the town over recent days.
Bootle MP Joe Benton said “inter-gang warfare” was behind the shocking outbreak of violence.
One woman, a grandmother, who asked not to be named, said she saw the 15-year-old victim of Saturday night’s attack lying in the road on neighbouring Walton Street covered in blood.
She said: “He was screaming for help and kept saying he was going to die. I was crying my eyes out, I just kept thinking it could be one of my grandchildren, it could be one of my girls.
“The neighbours were all out of their houses helping him.
“The police put an oxygen mask on him as soon as they arrived. He kept saying his mate was the one under the bridge.”
According to neighbours, one of the 17-year-old victims was found under the bridge on Walton Terrace, which has a reputation in the area as a no-go zone ruled by gangs.
A teenager, who lives on Walter Street, said thugs “stand like soldiers” under the concrete railway bridge which leads to Hornby Boulevard.
He said: “They are always there on bikes, with dogs, and there’s always police around.
“They should put a big wall up from Walton Terrace to Violet Road, that would sort it out.”
Emergency services were called at around 11.30pm to reports a 17-year-old had been shot. Later, the other three victims also got medical attention for shotgun wounds, none of which were life threatening.
The woman who saw the 15-year-old boy in the street said she “heard bangs” while walking home from her friend’s house with her husband.
She said: “We didn’t hear any shouting before, we just heard the bangs.
“Then a group of lads came running past us down Newfort Way, some of them were laughing. I just grabbed onto my husband. It’s so scary to think they could have had guns on them.
“I won’t walk that way at night any more.”
Yesterday morning, as neighbours huddled in doorways in their pyjamas, sheets of black plastic marked the spots where the teenagers were shot down.
Forensic experts combed the cordoned-off scene and surrounding area for vital clues.
A mum-of-two, who has lived in a neighbouring street for 20 years, said she lived in fear of the violence spreading to her road.
She said: “I’m scared to go to bed in case you wake up and all hell’s broken loose on the street. Twenty years ago, you could go out and leave your door open. You can’t even stand on the corner of the street now.
“I would like to know where they are getting the guns from, someone must be buying them for them.” The latest shooting came just days after officers called a public meeting to reassure frightened residents, who fear a gangland turf war is being waged on their doorsteps.
Then, acting inspector for Bootle, Tony Lock, said: “We know that it’s very, very scary for people especially with the connotations of events in Croxteth and the death of Rhys Jones.” He added that “gun crime was at the top of the agenda”.
The latest spate started last Friday, July 27, when a 29-year-old man was shot in the chest and leg in a car park on Orrell Road.
Shots were fired at a house on Wadham Road at 12.30am on Tuesday and a property on Partington Avenue at 11.45pm the same day.
Two days later, an 18-year-old man was shot several times in the chest in broad daylight in South Park at around 9.30am.
A haul of cannabis was found at a property on Gloucester Road during police raids on four addresses after the Partington Avenue shooting.
Eight men have so far been arrested over the shootings; five in connection with the incident in South Park and three over the Orrell Road attack.
How the surge in gun crime has unfolded in Bootle:
Friday, July 29 – 29-year-old man shot in the chest and leg in a car park in Orrell Road
Tuesday, July 31 -– shots are fired at a house in Wadham Road around 12.30am. Later that night, shots are fired at a house in Partington Avenue around 11.45pm
Thursday, August 2 – an 18-year-old man shot in the chest in South Park around 9.30am. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds from a shotgun.
By John Siddle, Liverpool Echo, 6th August 2012.
News article on Liverpool Echo website can be found here
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