CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Council and police accused of failing to shut down gathering before estate shootings

Four hurt – including grandmother who had come out onto her balcony to see what the commotion was about

16 August, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

The remains of the party in Clarence Gardens as police search for clues

RESIDENTS reported a loud party to both the police and Camden Council hours before it was targeted by a drive-by shooting on Saturday night, which left four people injured.

A grandmother, who was a bystander stood outside her neighbour’s flat, was one of those injured when shots were fired into the gathering on the Regent’s Park Estate from a car with five men inside.

Police said tonight (Monday) that they have launched a review into the speed in which complaints about the gathering were acted on.

Acting borough police commander Detective Superintendent Caroline Haines said: “I know that there is concern within the local community about a BBQ which took place in the hours prior to the shooting. I want to be clear- we are working to answer these questions as a priority. Police received a number of calls about the BBQ and officers attended and spoke to those in attendance.

“A full review is currently underway of the initial police response prior to the shooting, any learning will be acted upon and shared with the community.”

Neighbours told the New Journal today (Monday) that about 200 people had been in the open space from early on Saturday afternoon and that a party was in full swing when the shooting started just before 10.10pm.

They said that the mood had grown more menacing as the barbecue and party progressed.

One woman who lives near the square said: “It was this loud party going on, I had my windows shut and my TV turned up and I still couldn’t hear it over this party. There was loads of people.

“It started off quite nice but later on the music changed and you could tell something was going to happen. It’s not my sort of music but you could just feel the tension.

“I thought it was fireworks initially, or maybe a fuse blowing from one of the speakers, and then I looked outside and saw people running away – and then the police arrived and all hell broke loose.”

Noise complaints had been made earlier in the day to Camden Council, but people living nearby said that while officers turned up, no action was taken and they later left.

“If the party had been stopped, no way would [the shooting] still have happened, no way,” she added.

A 73-year-old woman, who was hit in the crossfire, had come out to see what the noise was and had been talking to her neighbour about the party when she was shot in both legs. She was still being treated in hospital today.

Her neighbour said: “It was just general chat between neighbours, she said to me ‘what time is this noise supposed to finish’. I just heard this ‘bang, bang, bang’, and she just screamed out loud and screamed in pain.

“She stumbled, and we grabbed her, so she just ended up on the floor and was bleeding from both legs. There was a lot of shouting all of a sudden and people started running in different directions.”

The ping pong table used for food and drink in Clarence Gardens

Two women, aged 17 and 19 were also injured, as was a 28-year-old man. They are also receiving hospital treatment, although none are in a life threatening condition.

No arrests have been made.

Bottles and food could today (Monday) still be seen on a table tennis table that had been used by people at the party. Several laughing gas canisters could be seen.

The incident came just two days after the two year anniversary of the murder of Alex Smith 350-yards away from Saturday’s shooting in Munster Square. The 16-year-old was stabbed as part of an ongoing gang feud in Camden. Three have been jailed for his killing, with two others thought to have fled the country since then.

Police officers sweep the gardens for clues

A Town Hall spokesperson confirmed that its security patrol team was called on Saturday afternoon.

They added: “The council team were in regular contact with the police, who were present on site earlier in the evening and then led the response following the shooting incident.”

DS Haines said: “Like many members of the community I am shocked by this incident and my thoughts are with the friends and family of those injured. I know that the local community have understandably been deeply unsettled by this and I want to reassure residents that our investigation is continuing at pace.

“We are progressing various lines of enquiry and we are working around the clock to bring those responsible to justice. Local residents should expect to see a heightened police presence in the area as we continue our work.”

In terms of the police’s review of complaints about the gathering received before the shootings, DS Haines said: “While this review is ongoing, we are keen to meet with members of the community directly to discuss their concerns and a community meeting has been organised for Tuesday August 17.”

She added: “One investigative update that I am able to provide at this stage is that we believe that this shooting was gang related and those injured were not the intended targets.

“Our investigative team still need to hear from anyone with any information about the shooting itself or saw anything suspicious in and around Clarence Gardens. It is vital that anyone with information shares with us what they know, either directly with police or anonymously via Crimestoppers.”

Council leader Labour councillor Georgia Gould visited Clarence Gardens on Sunday, along with community safety chief Councillor Nadia Shah.

She said: “We are incredibly distressed that this shocking act of violence happened in our Camden community and it is deeply sad that four people are in hospital.

“My thoughts are with them, their family and friends. Clarence Gardens and the wider Regent’s Park Estate are at the heart of our borough – a diverse and tight knit community of families and young people, people who have made their home there for decades, community leaders and civic activists.”

The Met has issued a plea for footage or any information of the incident to contact them.

Detective Superintendent Val John-Baptiste, who is leading the team investigating the incident said: “I need to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident or saw anything suspicious in and around Clarence Gardens.

“We thoroughly investigate every shooting in London – every incident and every weapon on our streets is of great concern to us. We know that Londoners feel exactly the same, and that’s why it is vital that anyone with information shares with us what they know, either directly with police or anonymously via Crimestoppers.

Anyone with any information can call police on 101 quoting reference 7619 of August 14. You can also provide information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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