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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Community 'disgust' at shooting
By Natalie Hancock
BBC News, Croxteth

Boy laying flowers where Rhys was shot
Rhys Jones had been on his way home after football practice

The streets are empty, doors are locked and despite the streaming sunshine, children remain indoors.

The few people out in Croxteth in Liverpool stand huddled together, talking among themselves with their heads bowed in shock at the news that an 11-year-boy was shot dead in the area.

Rhys Jones had been on his way home after football practice on a field behind the Fir Tree Pub when someone on a BMX bike fired three shots, one of which killed him.

Eileen Smith, a 42-year-old local mother-of-two, said: "It is horrific, but there is a bad problem here with gangs - there's loads of them.

'Not surprised'

"But this - this makes me so frightened. I've got two young kids... I'm petrified for them.

"As soon as I found out last night I called my boyfriend and he said we had to move.

"But I told him no, no way. Why should I let these people push me out? I'm not giving in."

Eileen Smith
Eileen Smith said she would not let her children play outside

Ms Smith said she did not let her children play outdoors - "they play inside and I watch them all the time".

But another resident, who did not want to be named, said that although it was a shocking death, he was not surprised.

He said: "This has been a long time coming. I've half-expected something like this for a while now.

"There's loads of kids hang round here. You're too frightened to go to the shops or to the pub, pensioners are too frightened to go to church on Sunday.

'Final straw'

"My neighbour got turned on by a lad and his dog, just going to get a paper.

"But this is the final straw. Where on earth are these kids getting their guns from?"

Another resident said: "Terrible, horrendous, unbelievable. There has been a lot of trouble and shootings here and it's getting worse.

Paul, a local resident
What can an 11-year-old possibly have done to deserve getting shot?
Paul, a local resident

"There are notices up in the doctor's surgery for police surgery times to report problems, there was even a dispersal order to try and stop the kids from hanging round, but it's had no effect.

"People are too scared to speak and the police need to find out who is selling teenagers guns."

Another man, who wanted to be known just as Paul, said: "It's just so disturbing, you don't expect it here. It is normally a good area, but there have been gangs coming in from other areas over the last year."

"We are at the point of moving - I don't want to go, I've got two sons who live on the estate but this is terrible."

The 67-year-old added: "What can an 11-year-old possibly have done to deserve getting shot?"

If someone can shoot an 11-year-old child they can kill anyone. What next - a baby in a pushchair?
Onlooker

A worried onlooker said: "Kids have always fought, but now the seem to just reach for a gun.

"If someone can shoot an 11-year-old child they can kill anyone. What next - a baby in a pushchair?

"There is no rhyme or reason. It makes you fear for everything, your family, your safety and your home."

One resident said he did not know what to blame. "Is it the parents of these violent kids' fault, is it drugs, video games or is it the kids themselves?

"I have no idea what the answer is, but when a little lad is killed like this, someone has got to do something."




SEE ALSO
Neighbour's shock at shooting
23 Aug 07 |  England

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