Police have not received a single call from the public with information about an “outrageous” drive-by shooting in which two teenagers were shot with one bullet outside a children’s Halloween Party.
Five days have passed since the doorstep shooting and police are still mystified as to a motive. The wall of silence has prompted West Midlands Police to re-appeal for information after the two boys, aged 14 and 15, were hit by the single round which went through one of the boys before lodging in the other’s stomach.
The shooting, involving what police believed to be a “powerful” firearm, happened at 8.15pm on Friday night in the Handsworth area of Birmingham.
Detective Superintendent Maria Fox, of West Midlands Police, said the incident had “crossed the line”, and she expected people within the criminal fraternity to have come forward anonymously with the names of those responsible.
She said: “We’ve received very little information following our appeals so as well as being an outrageous incident, actually the public response to it has not really met with the expectations that I had.”
She added: “My expectations were when they heard two children had been shot outside a family party in Handsworth that would create a reaction or response in the community, whether from the criminal community or law-abiding community.
“My expectation is that actually that sort of incident has crossed the line so I would have expected calls from every part of the community.”
Both youngsters were standing on the doorstep of a relatives’ house where the party was being held, having knocked on the front door moments before.
The victims, who are cousins, have both since undergone surgery and are currently in a serious but stable condition in hospital.
It is understood they were not specifically targeted and the shooting may have been a case of mistaken identity.
Police have stressed that neither boy had ever had any previous contact with police, had “no affiliation to any sort of criminality” and the attack appeared motiveless.
They said both boys had been “briefly” spoken to, but because of their conditions officers had yet to get a full account of their movements.
The bullet was recovered from the second victim and has been sent to a specialist firearms lab for fast-track analysis, which officers hope will shed light on the gun and exact calibre used.
Both children had been to a community centre earlier in the evening, and made their way to the Halloween party when they were shot at close-range.
The bullet was fired from a vehicle which pulled up on the opposite side of the road, according to witnesses. Officers are studying CCTV and have identified the round may have been fired from a dark-coloured car containing several people.
They have urged people to come forward with information, CCTV, dash-cam footage or to contact Crimestoppers anonymously.
Beverley Thomas, whose teenage daughter Charlene was killed in gangland machine-gun crossfire in 2003, said little had changed in the last 15 years when it came to community relations with police.
Charlene ,18, was killed by gang members along with best friend Letisha Shakespeare at a New Year’s Day party in Aston attended by more than 100 people.
“Yet not a single witness came forward to police. I said at the time there were people there that saw and became blind and heard and became deaf,” said Thomas.
“And very little has changed since then. There is still a mentality that police can’t be trusted and there is a silly code of silence amongst the youth.
“All I can say is what would you do if it was your son or daughter or relative who was shot. It’s not like what it used to be with the police.
“In my daughter’s killers’ trial one anonymous witness came forward and he has been protected to this day. I don’t even know who he is.”
Former police officer Kirk Dawes said the closure of a successful gang mediation unit he ran for eight years in the city had helped erode trust with the police.
“We were shut down for austerity reasons but between 2004-2012 we bought gun crime down to record low levels by engaging with street gang leaders and influencers,” said Queens Police Medal holder Dawes, who had travelled to Israel, Ireland and South Africa to research mediation and reconciliation techniques.
“It’s a false economy to suggest we were not cost effective in that a gangland murder investigation and trial costs about £2m whereas each mediation we did cost roughly £3,000.
“No-one wants to go directly to police for fear of being called a grass but we’ve broken the community links that existed. Trust levels are as low as they’ve ever been.”
The double shooting comes as Birmingham endures a “silent epidemic” of gun crime with the highest rate of firearms offences in the country.
West Midlands Police say its job has been made more difficult because its budget has been cut by £140m since 2010 with the loss of 2,000 officers.