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Family caught up in gunfight terror

PUBLISHED: 16:55 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:28 23 August 2010

A FATHER has revealed how he and his terrified wife and four-month-old baby took shelter in his workshop office during a street gunfight, writes Joe Shackley. Alex Bell, 36, from Istead Rise, had to stop two men from entering his sign-making premises whi

A FATHER has revealed how he and his terrified wife and four-month-old baby took shelter in his workshop office during a street gunfight, writes Joe Shackley.

Alex Bell, 36, from Istead Rise, had to stop two men from entering his sign-making premises while shots were being fired in the street outside last Friday at about 12:45pm.

Mr Bell, who owns Adwelds Ltd, Maple Road, Penge, revealed how he watched the ordeal unfold 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 and one of them tried to get in my yard. Then I heard the bullets going off and saw them ricochet off the building next to us. I looked up at my CCTV and saw the commotion, people running about and a fella with a handgun. Because I had my missus and baby here I went out to close the metal shutters as they tried to come in."

Three armed police units responded to the incident after reports of shots being fired in the area. Six people were arrested at the scene and another two believed to be linked with the incident were detained in Westminster 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: "It caused me loads of grief because 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 think it's ridiculous, it's crazy - this gang culture. 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.

"It would make me want to move premises but this is a cheap place, so I just go with the flow of it and keep my doors shut the best I can. I wouldn'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.

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.

Call police Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 with information.

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