Shooting of boy, seven, may be linked to murder of gangland 'Mr Big' Paul Massey


A boy of seven has been injured in a shooting which may be linked to the murder of a gangland "Mr Big", police said today.

The youngster had followed as his mother, 29, answered the door last night to be confronted by two men looking for someone else, detectives said.

After a "short" exchange on the doorstep one suspect then used a gun to fire three shots "at close range", hitting the mother twice in the leg and the boy once.

Both victims are in a serious but stable condition in hospital following the attack at 9.25pm on Gillingham Road in the Winton area of Salford.

Detectives said today the shooting is potentially linked to the murder of security boss Paul Massey, 55, in Salford in June and a feud between rival gangs in the Swinton and central Salford area of the city which has so far seen at least five shootings.

A second feud, unconnected to last night's attack, centred on another area of the city, Little Hulton, has also broken out, with at least six shootings linked with that.

Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson, of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), described last night's incident as "absolutely horrible".

Briefing journalists before a press conference by police chiefs and local politicians he said the attack is potentially linked to the murder of Massey and the continuing feud in the city.

Rival gangs are understood to be involved in drug dealing, loan sharking and extortion, but Mr Jackson said the gang war may also be over other issues.

He said: "It is very difficult to understand what the feuds are about. But what I can say is that it's got all the hallmarks of a feud over disrespect.

"These incidents often start not necessarily over drugs but over a degree of disrespect shown to each other."

The injured youngster is likely to be in hospital for another seven days.

Speaking at a press conference at Salford town hall with the city's political leaders, Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, said: "This is a sickening and cowardly attack on a seven-year-old boy and his mother at their home.

"The level of criminal recklessness is putting innocent people at risk and this has to stop.

"The shootings we have had are part of two distinct feuds between organised crime groups here in Salford."

Mr Hopkins said gun crime was "absolutely not" out of control in the city and a major police operation involving 50 detectives was already running in Salford, targeting organised crime, with 30 guns seized since January, dozens of arrests and armed response units working around the clock.

But he appealed for the public's help to break down what has been called a "wall of silence" surrounding crime gangs in the city.

He added: "I would ask for people to search their souls and for people to come forward with information to end these disputes and particularly to help us detect the horrific incident that occurred last night."

Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester Tony Lloyd said police will do everything they can but asked the community to help officers.

He said: "I think it is a matter of fact that the police have been hampered by the silence coming from those who know in the past.

"And we do need people to come forward, I can't believe that even those involved in the organised gangs in Salford will be anything other than sickened themselves by the descent, when we see, not grown men involved in gangs, but a woman and mother and a seven-year-old child becoming the victims of the violence that has occurred around these streets in recent months.

"But actually in the end it is up to people in the community who know what's going on to come forward, they can come forward anonymously, they can come forward in whatever way they see fit, but actually breaking this wall of silence may safeguard young children, we cannot let this sickening incident pass without there being an effort on the part of the community."

Salford has suffered a series of shootings since Massey, was gunned down outside his home in the city on July 26.

A father of five, he was a well-known figure in his home city of Salford, and had been involved in security firms operating in Manchester and beyond.

Last night a £50,000 reward was put up for information during an appeal on BBC TV's Crimewatch programme.

The Crimewatch programme was broadcast as the attack was launched in Salford.

Massey's funeral was a very public send-off, attracting hundreds of mourners, with banners describing him as a "Salford legend" hung on pubs, railings and lampposts.

Ian Stewart, mayor of Salford, said: "Someone out there knows who carried this sickening crime out, and we and police need to know. That's the way to stop this. It must stop. The public have the answer in their own hands."

Police issued brief descriptions of last night's attackers.

The first is described as white, aged 19 or 20, chunky build with stubble on his face wearing a baseball cap and with a local accent with slow speech.

The second man, who fired the gun, is described only as also white and wearing a baseball cap.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 5345 or anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.