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Boy shot dead after bike chase is 10th young London victim in six months
· 16-year-old surrounded by armed gang on pushbikes
· Friends say Somalia youth was in the wrong place
By Helen Pidd and Sandra Laville
London, July 27, 2007 - A 16-year-old boy was shot dead at point blank range yesterday in what a witness said was a random "execution" after he was chased across a south London estate by a gang of armed youths on bicycles.
The murder of Abukah Mahamood, who had just finished his GCSE exams, is the 10th high profile killing of a teenage boy in gang violence in London in less than six months.
Abukah, whose family are originally from Somalia, died in the early hours of yesterday morning after residents on the Stockwell Gardens estate, south London, heard several shots ring out. Police sources confirmed his name and said his family had been informed.
Officers believe a gang of up to seven youths who chased Abukah on bicycles were carrying at least two firearms. Witness said they were all wearing black hooded tops and wild west style bandanas.
One witness, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, said: "It was an execution. He was on foot, they were on bikes and they circled him so that he had nowhere to go. He fell, and then one of them shot him, close-up, in the back of the head.
"The guy did it didn't even get off his bike. Once he had fired the shots, the gang escaped on their bikes. The boy was left lying there covered in blood. He wasn't making any noise or moving: I think they killed him instantly."
Another neighbour, who ran down after hearing the shots said: "He was lying in the foetal position and had blood running down his face." He said he saw the boys leaving on their bikes: "They were all wearing black hoodies with scarves covering their faces."
Paramedics attempted to resuscitate Abukah as he lay on the ground, one witness said. "There was about five paramedics in bright fluorescent tops trying to revive him and there was a girl who looked like a relative who was crying uncontrollably. They treated him there for ages, about one hour, before taking him away in an ambulance."
Yesterday as scene-of-crime officers searched the estate, the teenage boy's blood was still visible on the ground.
Detective Inspector Geoff Whitehouse, from Operation Trident which investigates crime in the black community, said: "It would appear that at approximately 12.15am the victim was pursued within the Stockwell Gardens estate by a group of between five to seven black males riding pedal cycles.
"A number of shots were fired towards the victim resulting in him being fatally wounded. The suspects, who we now believe to have been carrying two firearms, then made off into the alleyway."
One 16-year-old said two gangs from Herne Hill and Stockwell had clashed at a funfair last week and some were speculating that the murder was a result of that.
Nasina Khatum, a mother of three who has lived on the estate for 20 years said: "I heard two shots and thought it was fireworks but then half an hour later I heard all the police sirens. It's a terrible shame and such as waste of a young life."
Friends of the dead boy paid tribute to him yesterday. One 15-year-old friend said that although he had been in trouble with the police in the past, he did not have any enemies. "I don't think [the killing] was intentional," she said. "It was just unfortunate that he was there. He was not a wanted person and he wasn't involved in any gangs. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
She added that the family, who lived in nearby Tulse Hill, were originally from Somalia, but that English was his first language. He was a nice boy, they said: "Abukah was quiet, but he smiled a lot."
Others in the area said that the same gang of up to 10 youths on bicycles had been circling the estate at around midnight last Sunday. "They did the same thing, but no one was there," one resident said. "They fired shots and then left. They roam about trying to intimidate people."
A husband and wife Tony, 40, and Shelley, 37, who live on the estate said tension had been building for five years with drug and gang-related problems on the increase. "They have got a name for this place, it's Hot Spot. If you want drugs you go to Hot Spot," Tony said.
The couple said the teenagers wore clothes with SW9 written on the front and hotspot on the back. "That seems to be the gang uniform in this area. It's terrifying. My daughter is 13 and my son is 16 and I'm worried they will get mixed up in it, especially when there's kids getting shot right outside your door."
The killing is the latest in a spate of fatal knife attacks and shootings in the capital in which the victims have been boys aged as young as 14.
Source: The Guardian