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Christmas eve pub shooting victim, 26, was not deliberately targeted

Wallasey Village: Woman killed in Christmas Eve shooting

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The killer struck just minutes before midnight on Christmas Eve, causing terror and panic among mostly young drinkers. Staff at the Lighthouse in Wallasey Village, near Liverpool, described the bloodshed as a “tragedy beyond words”. And horrified neighbours said they could not believe such a thing had happened in their “quiet” village.

Dame Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey, said the shooting was “heartbreaking” while police branded the killer as “despicable”.

Officers were called to the pub around 11.50 pm on Saturday following reports of gunshots, said Merseyside Police.

The killer is believed to have fled the scene in a dark-coloured Mercedes.

Detectives are examining CCTV footage to track the suspect’s getaway and are appealing to anyone with a mobile phone or other images to get in touch.

Some people living nearby thought people were letting off fireworks. But one, who gave his name as Phil, said he suspected immediately the loud bangs were gunshots.

He said: “It’s really, really shocking. It’s a lovely village, it’s quiet.

“We frequent the Lighthouse pub often, along with another local pub around the corner, and there’s never been any trouble or problems.”

Jenny Hough, 77, said: “I thought the shots were a firework, people celebrating midnight on Christmas Day.”

“My sister’s garden had been broken into. We suspect it was people trying to get out of the pub and trying to climb over the wall and into her garden to get out.”

Jeffrey Hughes, minister of the United Reformed Church in Wallasey Village, said: “Wallasey Village is a fairly lively area, it’s a nice part of the north end of the Wirral.

“We’ve got a lot of young people, families, in that area. The Lighthouse is central in that community.

“Wallasey Village is the last place you would think of [to have a shooting].”

Dame Angela said: “This is heartbreaking news. My thoughts are with the family of the woman who has died and those who are injured.

“Anyone with any information, please tell the police.”

In a statement, the force said: “A young woman was taken to hospital with an injury consistent with a gunshot wound to which she succumbed and was sadly pronounced deceased.

“The woman’s next of kin have been informed and her family are being supported by specially trained officers.

“Three men were also taken to hospital with gunshot wounds and a number of others were also injured.

“A murder investigation is underway to establish the circumstances of what has taken place.”

Forensic officers resumed examination of the scene on Christmas morning.

Inside the Lighthouse, televisions were still switched on as police worked among scattered beer bottles and glasses discarded by terrified pubgoers as they fled in fear of their lives.

Officers cordoned off the pub and sections of the surrounding roads while the forensic investigation is carried out. Some people left floral tributes.

The shooting left residents stunned. Detective Superintendent Dave McCaughrean said: “This investigation is in the very early stages and we understand that this is a truly shocking and devastating incident that has happened just before Christmas Day in a busy venue full of young people.

“We have a number of officers at Wallasey Village who are carrying out extensive enquiries to understand exactly what has taken place and take immediate action.

“A woman has tragically lost her life at Christmas whilst several people are being treated in hospital and our thoughts and condolences are with the victim’s family.

“I would ask anyone who was in the Lighthouse in Wallasey Village on Saturday night who witnessed the incident or has mobile or CCTV footage of what happened to contact us as a matter of urgency as they may have information which is vital to our investigation.”

He added: “We believe that the gunman left the pub car park in a dark-coloured vehicle – possibly a dark-coloured Mercedes shortly after the shooting and we are keen to hear from anyone who saw this to contact us immediately.”

Earlier this month, Merseyside Police launched a crackdown on a highly dangerous organised crime gang linked to large scale drug dealing and violence, including shootings.

However, the gangsters have not been linked to the bloodshed at the Lighthouse.

The 26-year-old woman who was murdered is not thought to have been deliberately targeted, police said.  She was enjoying a Christmas Eve night out with friends when she was shot, said Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Simms.  The young woman was rushed to hospital but died later.

Four victims were wounded in the “callous” attack and a 28-year-old man from the Beechwood area of the Wirral is in a “critical” condition in hospital.

The other three injured men, aged 22, 24 and 33, are not in a life-threatening condition, said Detective Superintendent Sue Coombs.

Police praised people who were in the pub at the time and appealed to anyone with information to come forward and help bring the killer to justice.  Many people have already contacted the police.

Anyone with information can contact the police via Twitter by messaging the accounts @MerPolCC or @CrimestoppersUK.

“She was taken to Arrowe Park hospital but sadly passed away shortly afterwards.

“Her family have been informed and on today, which should be a day with friends celebrating, they are coming to terms with this tragic loss.

“It’s very early stages of the investigation but we do not believe that the victim in this case has been targeted.

“She was out enjoying Christmas with her sister and friends at what should have been a peaceful time.

“What her family are now going through is incomprehensible.”

Police are still trying to establish a motive for the shooting.

Ms Coombs added: “We believe that the gunman fired shots towards the front entrance of the pub, we know that minutes later, a dark-coloured vehicle, possibly an A-class Mercedes,

was seen to leave the pub car park, so we are particularly keen to speak to that male and anybody who knows anything about that vehicle.

“We won’t rest until we find the people responsible for this terrible, terrible crime.”

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