Tuesday, October 17, 2006

One man is killed and two wounded in black-on-black gun crime in London

Helen Nugent:

A MAN was shot dead and two others injured, one critically, in separate shootings in London at the weekend.

Officers from Operation Trident, the Scotland Yard team that specialises in “black-on-black” gun crime, are investigating the murder of David Kerr, 22, who was killed outside a block of flats on Saturday morning in Willesden, northwest London.

Members of the Trident team are also investigating a separate incident in which a 26-year-old man was shot in the head outside a South London nightclub early on Sunday. Police believe that he was an unlucky passer-by caught in a scuffle during which another man, aged 28, was shot in the buttock. The latter is in a stable condition.

What police statistics describe as “gun-enabled crime” is falling across London but there are exceptions to the pattern, particularly in the south of the capital, where guns are commonplace.

The shootings on Walworth Road, South London, took place in the Borough of Southwark, where the number of firearm incidents rose from 242 in 2004-05 to 300 in 2005-06.

Police cordoned off the scene of the shooting, opposite the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, while forensic officers scoured the area. A pool of blood lay on the pavement outside the The Ministry of Salsa club and a South American bar called Los Arrieros.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: “At 3.46am we were called to reports of a man shot. London Ambulance Service attended and took two men to hospital, one in a serious condition, one in a stable condition.”

A Trident spokesman added: “It is understood one of the victims left a nightclub called the Ivory Arch on Walworth Road. On Walworth Road a man, or men, approached him and a brief scuffle took place and he was shot in the buttock. He made his way under the railway bridge when more shots were fired.

“The other victim was outside the Ministry of Salsa club and he was shot in the head. At this stage we do not believe the two victims are known to each other. The man shot in the head is believed to have been a passer-by. Both victims are black.”

Statistics for the year to February show that there were 3,865 firearms offences in London, up 7 per cent. One in ten were shootings, averaging one a day. Operation Trident investigated 241 non-fatal shootings, up 33 per cent, and 15 murders (down one).

In a statement on the murder of Mr Kerr on Saturday, Detective Chief Inspector Scott Wilson said: “The victim . . . lives some way from this location and we are keen to establish why he was there. It is thought David could have been in the area for up to half an hour before the shooting and may have knocked on some of the doors at the block. We are keeping an open mind regarding motive. No arrests have been made.”

Operation Trident was set up in March 1998 as detectives at Scotland Yard grew concerned at the rise of gun crime among young black criminals.

At first it was an intelligence-based initiative after a spate of shootings and murders in and around the areas of Lambeth and Brent, but this was expanded across London in August 1999 as the shootings increased.

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