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 Saturday, 4 January, 2003, 21:20 GMT
'Good response' to shooting appeal
From left: Cheryl Shaw, Charlene Ellis, Sophie Ellis and Latisha Shakespeare
Charlene (second left) and Latisha (right) both died
Police say they are encouraged by calls they have received about a shooting outside a party in Birmingham that left two teenage girls dead.

Detective Superintendent Dave Mirfield said they had received a number of anonymous but helpful calls from the public.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said that without the co-operation from the local community the police faced an "impossible task".

Officers would still like to hear from a large proportion of the 100 people who were at the party at the hair salon on Thursday.

Charlene Ellis, 18, and Latisha Shakespeare, 17 were killed in the shooting, while Charlene's twin sister, Sophie, and 17-year-old Cheryl Shaw were injured.

Armed guard

More than 30 shots were fired from at least two weapons, including a sub machine gun, during the attack, which may have been a feud between rival gangs.

Cheryl has returned home, but Sophie Ellis remains under armed guard in hospital, where her condition is described as stable.

Tribute left at scene
Tributes have been left at the scene of the shooting
Detectives hope reward money totalling 85,000 may encourage people to come forward to help track the killers.

That sum includes an offer of 50,000 from the News of the World for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.

There had been concerns about witnesses being reluctant to come forward out of fear of reprisals, but Mr Mirfield said the response had been better than in previous cases.

West Midlands Police spokesman Sarah Astbury rejected claims the police had come up against "a wall of silence".

"We have had a fairly good response," she told BBC News Online.

Church appeal

BBC correspondent Judith Moritz said there would be a further appeal for witnesses to come forward at a nearby church service on Sunday.

She said forensic officers were still searching the bullet-riddled salon which was visited by Latisha's family on Saturday.

Rewards offered
News of the World: 50,000
Daily Mail: 25,000
Birmingham Evening Mail and Victims of Crime group: 10,000
Post-mortem examinations found that Latisha died from a gunshot wound to the chest while Charlene had been shot in the head.

The shooting has led to calls for tighter controls on people carrying guns in the UK.

Mr Blunkett has called a summit of police chiefs, community representatives, customs and immigration officials, and the Crown Prosecution Service on Friday in a bid to tackle gun crime.

The meeting as been planned for some time, said the Home Office.

The Chairman of the Partnership Against Crime group in Birmingham, Anthony Gordon, says the tragedy should spur the community on to combat gun culture.

"This should give our work more momentum and more people should be picking their phones up and trying to get in touch with us and get involved with us about getting these young people out of this way of thinking," he said.

"If we can't respond to this in a positive way and make some good out of this then what are we waiting for, why are we living?"

The Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales is pressing the government to change the law to curb the conversion of replica guns and air weapons into lethal weapons.

And people caught with illegal firearms could face at least five years in jail under government plans being considered in response to rising gun crime.

Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to contact Canterbury Road police station on 0121 606 7881 or contact the Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111.

  The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"The police have had some anonymous calls, but they want more"
  Local vicar Dan Bowen, Holy Trinity Church
"We have to recognise a lot of these young people are very frightened"
  Lucy Cope, Mothers Against Guns
"This wall of silence needs to be broken down"

Key stories



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03 Jan 03 | England
03 Jan 03 | Politics
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