Man arrested over ‘gang’ shooting of girl aged five

A man was arrested in connection with the shooting of five-year-old Thursha Kamaleswaran.

The 19-year-old was detained in south London yesterday afternoon following the shooting on Tuesday night in which the little girl and another innocent bystander were caught in the crossfire of a suspected botched turf war attack inside a shop.

Scotland Yard said the man wasbeing questioned at a south London police station.

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Earlier, a teenager targeted by the gangsters thought to have shot Thursha came out of hiding to help detectives to find them.

The youth told officers he cowered behind shelves as Thursha and another bystander were caught in the crossfire of a suspected turf war attack inside the shop.

Relatives were maintaining vigils at Thursha’s hospital bedside last night while detectives built up a “continuity trail” of the attackers’ movements.

Beat officers have also increased their presence around Stockwell Food and Wine store as sources said up to 50 gangs were operating in the south London area.

Extra police support – including several specialist Territorial Support Group officers – have been called in to provide help to reassure local people that there were not going to be any “tit for tat” retaliation attacks.

Close family friend Velluppillai Navaratnam, 49, from Croydon, south London, said it was a “very difficult time” for Thursha’s relatives.

“The parents of Thursha are at the hospital now,” he said. “We are all praying for her to get well soon.”

Thursha – believed to be London’s youngest gun crime victim – was hit in the chest and Roshan Selvakumar, 35, suffered a head wound after two black youths ran for cover into the store after being chased by three other black youths on bicycles.

Detectives revealed her 12-year-old brother, three-year-old sister and mother had also been in the shop but were unhurt during the shooting. The store’s owners are the children’s aunt and uncle.

Crimestoppers is offering a £50,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the attackers.

Detective Chief Inspector Tony Boughton said officers “are beginning to get a clearer picture” after one of two black youths who fled into the shop came forward to assist with inquiries.

“We are still trying to trace the other individual and appeal to him to come forward,” he said.

Initial forensic reports support witness statements that two shots were fired.

Evidence was also being analysed in an attempt to work out if the attackers were linked with previous crimes.

“There’s a lot of CCTV in the area and we are trying to follow a continuity trail to find the youths responsible,” Mr Boughton said.

He said they had already had a good response from the local community in their appeal for information.

The three attackers, who a witness said were aged between 14 and 17, fled from the Stockwell Road shop along Broomgrove Road and into the Stockwell Park Estate.

The victims, both Sri Lankan and unrelated, were rushed to hospital in south London and both remained in a critical but stable condition.

“Although their injuries are very serious, they are both under the circumstances doing well,” Mr Boughton said.