A five-year-old girl became the youngest victim of gun crime in London when she was shot and injured in the south of the capital on Tuesday night, Channel 4 News understands.
The young girl’s uncle told Channel 4 News that the girl, who he said was called Tusha, comes from Ilford in east London and was visiting relatives who owned the shop in Brixton.
A 35-year-old man is also being treated for gunshot wounds. Police say the victims are not related, but it is believed that the man was one of the shopkeepers in the store, Stockwell Wine and Food. Tusha was shot in chest and the as yet unnamed man was hit in the face.
Detectives from the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Trident unit, which which focuses on gun crime in the black community, believe they were caught in the crossfire of two rival gangs.
A police statement read: “It is believed two black youths ran into the shop shortly before the shots were fired. The youths had been chased from Broomgrove Road, across Stockwell Road, and into the shop by three other black youths on bicycles. Once the youths on bikes were outside the shop, one of them fired shots into the shop front.”
Everyone I have spoken today is so, so sad to hear this. We pray for the little girl and wish the police catch the evil people who did this. Bouchiba Aberrahim, neighbour
Detectives believe that the first two youths who entered the shop had been been seeking shelter from the gang who arrived with guns shortly after. There have been no arrests so far.
The young girl and the man were taken to a hospital in south London – their condition is described as critical but stable.
Several local residents said that they had heard loud shots outside the shop and saw men on bikes speeding away.
Paola Caldeira told Channel 4 News: “I was walking back from the shop and I heard a very loud bang: I knew it was a gun shot and I ran away back home, thinking it was a gang fight. And I when I looked back, I saw kids – they dressed like teenagers – with black masks or hoods on bicyles getting away. They were gone very quickly.”
Bouchiba Aberrahim, who lives 10 houses away from the shop, said: “All of the neighbours came out of their houses because we all heard gun shots. I thought ‘Oh God what has happened now,’ I hope no one is dead.
“I never thought a tiny girl would be shot here: Brixton used to be bad, but there is so little trouble any more. Everyone I have spoken today is so, so sad to hear this. We pray for the little girl and wish the police catch the evil people who did this.”
The latest shooting in London has fuelled calls for extra money to be spent preventing gun crime.
Claudia Webbe, Chair of the Trident Independent Advisory Group, told Channel 4 News more had be done before the bullets were fired: “I think we aren’t doing enough to make sure the manufacture, importation, distribution of firearms is being stemmed but more importantly we need to do a lot more to tackle drugs.
“Quite a lot of the time when we come to Trident-type shootings it’s fuelled by drugs.”
She added: “If this was happening in Canary Wharf, I’m sure every amount of resource would be going in to make sure it wouldn’t happen…so when it’s happening in Lambeth, Southwark or Haringey it’s important we support and protect families and invest more.” Read more here.
The shooting occured a fortnight after two 17-year-old males suffered non-life threatening injuries when they were stabbed in Brixton Hill, 1.5 miles, on 15 March. No arrests have been made in the case.
The shooting of apparently innocent bystanders is reminiscent of the case almost one year ago when 16-year-old schoolgirl Agnes Sinawa-Inakoju was shot dead by gang members in Hackney, east London> In that incident, teenage thugs on bicycles, sprayed sub-machine gun bullets outside a takeaway on 14 April last year. At the time, police believed they were aiming at rivals in another gang.
Witnesses or anyone with any information is being urged to call police on 0300 123 1212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.