A 15-year-old boy was gunned down in a brutal gangland-style execution in the notorious Moss Side area of Manchester, England
The body of the teenager, named by locals as Jessie James, was found close to a children's playground and basketball court at 2.40am after neighbours reported hearing several shots.
People living near the murder scene said Jessie, who attended the nearby Manchester Academy high school, had links with local gangs. The teenager is believed to have lived in another part of Moss Side with his parents and sister, who were last night being comforted by family liaison officers as police hunted his killer.
Superintendent John O'Hare said: "We believe this was a planned attack. I want the people who pulled the trigger to realise what the family are going through."
The murder follows a recent escalation in gun violence in the area. On a single day last month, there were three shootings. In one incident a teenager on a mountain bike fired at a car chasing him and three other cyclists.
Last night, the murder scene on Raby Street remained sealed off while forensic officers carried out a fingertip search for clues.
A local resident, who asked not be named, described how he had seen the victim only hours before the shooting.
"I knew Jessie and I was talking to him only yesterday in the park," the resident said. "We were laughing and joking and it's unbelievable that he's now dead."
Police have stepped up patrols in the area and called on the community to help find the killer. Supt O'Hare added: "There is a 15-year-old boy who is lying dead. There are people who can stop this. I am asking them to examine their consciences and come forward."
Moss Side has become a byword for gun violence and gang warfare since the bloody feuds over cocaine and heroin trafficking between infamous street gangs such as the Gooch Close and Doddington mobs gripped the area in the 1990s. It was dubbed "Britain's Bronx" and the city was nicknamed "Gunchester".
Over five years, 27 men died and more than 250 people were injured in clashes in south Manchester.
Although several leading figures have been jailed over recent years, the gangs remain a powerful presence. During the past six years, police have identified 500 gang members.
Jessie is the youngest fatality of the gang wars since Benji Stanley, 14, an innocent bystander shot dead in January 1993 as he queued for a takeaway. In July, 45-year-old Ernest Gifford was gunned down at his home on Raby Street while his girlfriend and her two children were in the property.
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