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Family caught up in street gunfight terror

PUBLISHED: 17:51 23 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 12 August 2010

A FATHER has revealed how he, his terrified wife and four-month-old baby took shelter in his office as a street gunfight raged outside.

A FATHER has revealed how he, his terrified wife and four-month-old baby took shelter in his office as a street gunfight raged outside

Alex Bell, 36, from Istead Rise, owner of Adwelds Ltd, Maple Road, Penge, bravely stopped two men from getting into his sign-making premises while shots rained down in the street outside his business last Friday at 12.45pm.

Mr Bell watched in horror as the ordeal unfolded on CCTV, during which six people were arrested by armed police.

He said: "I saw a couple of boys running up the alleyway towards my premises, one of them tried to get into my yard.

"I heard the bullets being fired and saw them ricochet off the building next to us. I saw the commotion on CCTV. There were people running about and a fella with a handgun. I went outside to close the metal shutters as they were trying to come in."

Three armed police vehicles responded to the incident after locals reported shots being fired.

Six people were arrested at the scene and another two, believed to be linked with the incident, were detained in Westminster, London, on Saturday afternoon.

Police cordoned off Maple Road and Graveney Grove for three hours, but Mr Bell was forced to remain at his premises until 9.45pm while officers checked his car for fingerprints.

He said: "The police wouldn't let me move, we were caught right bang in the middle of it. My missus had to have an injection of a blood thinning drug, so the police had to drive her home.

"I grew up in Bellingham, and I've seen all sorts going on, but none of this. I've seen punch-ups but not people firing bullets at each other.

"My employees wear hoodies to work because of the cold weather. They could have come around here, been mistaken for someone else and could have ended up taking a bullet. I don't want my daughter to grow up in this area."

A gun, which may be linked to the shooting, was recovered in nearby Penge recreation ground at 3.30pm on Sunday. The Met's Operation Trident anti-gun crime team is now dealing with the investigation.

Bromley police's acting chief superintendent Matt Bell said: "Officers are investigating in an attempt to discover what led up to it. We are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident."

A 39-year-old woman from Penge, too frightened to be named, who lives close to the scene of the shooting said she thought the area's gang-related problems had "got worse over the years".

She said: "You can't go around the shops at night. A lot of drug dealing goes on at the recreation ground. I don't see things getting better, I am looking to move."

Another, a 41-year-old man who also feared being named, was staying with his brother in Graveney Grove. He said: "I don't like this area. I don't feel comfortable. I wouldn't live here if I had the choice.

"I asked my brother to move but he pays a good price to live here. In the summertime there seems to be a lot of fighting around here but I don't think it's the people who live on this road who make the trouble."

The suspects, seven males and one female, are all aged between 18 and 23 and have been bailed to return to various south London police stations on March 17.

Anyone with information should contact Bromley police on 01689 891212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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