PLEASE NOTE: Add your own commentary here above the horizontal line, but do not make any changes below the line. (Of course, you should also delete this text before you publish this post.)
This article titled “Salford shooting of mother and son linked to gangland murder of Paul Massey” was written by Josh Halliday and Jamie Grierson, for The Guardian on Tuesday 13th October 2015 15.25 UTC
A seven-year-old boy and his mother have been shot in the legs at close range in a “sickening and cowardly” escalation of a gangland feud in Salford, police said.
The victims were named locally as Jayne Hickey, 29, and her seven-year-old son, who are being treated in hospital for life-changing injuries after two gunmen opened fire on the doorstep of their home on Monday night.
Detectives said the attack was being linked to the gangland murder of Paul Massey, known as Salford’s Mr Big, in July.
Police believe the shooting was targeted, not a case of mistaken identity, and part of a dispute between rival groups being settled with firearms. “It was settling a score”, said sources with knowledge of the investigation.
Armed police raced to the house in Winton, Eccles, after the shooting at about 9.30pm on Monday night. At a press conference in Salford on Tuesday, police revealed that two men knocked on the door of the house, which was answered by the boy.
The men, one of whom was unshaven and described as having slow speech, then spoke to Hickey and appeared to be looking for someone at the address. They then opened fire at close range, shooting her twice in the leg and the boy once before fleeing on foot, reportedly chased by the boy’s father.
As a manhunt was launched to find the gunmen, Greater Manchester police’s deputy chief constable, Ian Hopkins, said the “sickening and cowardly” shooting of a woman and her son had “crossed a line”.
He said: “This is a sickening and cowardly attack on a seven-year-old boy and his mother in their own home. This level of criminal recklessness is putting innocent people at risk. This has to stop.”
Hopkins insisted that gun crime was not out of control in Greater Manchester, following a string of shootings across Salford and Bolton at the weekend.
Hopkins said the latest shooting was believed to be linked to a longstanding feud between gangs in central Salford, and Swinton – a rivalry also connected to the murder of Massey.
Massey, 55, a well-known figure in the criminal underworld in Greater Manchester, was shot dead outside his home in a targeted attack. A close friend said he had been mediating between two warring gangs at the time of his murder.
Tony Lloyd, the Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner, urged locals to “examine their consciences and their souls” and go to police with any information that might lead to the arrest of the attackers. “Breaking this wall of silence could protect young children,” he said.
Hickey lives in the property with her husband and the boy’s father, named Christian, and their teenage daughter.
Salford’s mayor, Ian Stewart, added: “Part of the solution to these incidents is the people of this city. Someone knows who carried this sickening attack out. Someone knows who is responsible for these crimes.”
Police said they had taken 30 guns off the streets of Salford in the past eight months and that a major operation against organised crime in the city was under way in the city.
The mother and boy are still in hospital receiving treatment for their injuries. The boy was expected to have surgery on Tuesday.
A large cordon was placed around the scene of the shooting on Tuesday morning, hours after teams of detectives and forensic officers examined the area.
Neighbours said they heard “two loud pops” but no screaming or shouting at the time of the attack.
Sue Barry, a neighbour of the family, told the Manchester Evening News: “At about 9.30pm last night we heard two loud bangs. We thought they were fireworks.
“Next thing the police turned up. We explained to them what we heard. The whole street was taped off. We just heard these two very loud bangs. It’s shocking. The family are very nice. It’s quiet here and nothing really happens.”
Police described one of the gunmen as white, between 19 and 20 years old, of “chunky” build and wearing a baseball cap. He spoke slowly and with a Salford accent. The second man is described as white and was also wearing a baseball cap.
The quiet streets surrounding the scene of the shooting have since been a hive of police activity, with forensics officers pulling up every drain on the street in search for clues about the gunmen. Other uniformed officers patrolled the streets on horseback, bicycle and on foot in an attempt to reassure the public.
The shooting comes after a series of gun attacks over the weekend in Bolton and Salford, including two targeted attacks in the space of 90 minutes on Saturday night. In Little Hulton, a Salford suburb at the centre of a separate gangland feud, seven men were arrested and a large stash of drugs seized on Tuesday morning.
Another neighbour of Hickey, who declined to be named, described her as “very pleasant, very quiet”, while the boy would often be seen playing football in the garden with his dad. “She’s in hospital, the both of them are in hospital, and the rest of the family are with them,” she said.
• A photo caption on this article was changed on 14 October 2015 to correct the name of the road where the shooting took place.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010