Robert Booth The Guardian, Monday August 25 2008 Article history
Police officers at the scene in Hockley Close in Newtown, Birmingham where a 24-year-old man was shot dead. Photograph: Neil Plumb/PA
Police in Birmingham appealed to rival gangs to stay calm last night after a 24-year-old man was shot dead, the latest in a spate of shootings in the inner city area of Newtown.
West Midlands police said Dimitri Foskin was shot once in the chest shortly before 10.15pm on Saturday in Hockley Close, north of the city centre, which local residents said was frequented by drug dealers. He was taken by ambulance to City hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The victim was unemployed and had lived nearby with his mother. Police said he had been socialising with friends and cousins and had visited a number of houses in and around the close with at least two other people before leaving one of the properties alone. It was then that he was killed.
Officers said last night said they were aware of gang rivalries in the community, but added that they did not have a motive for the killing and at this early stage were not linking the attack to gang warfare.
It is the third fatal shooting in the Newtown area in the past nine months. In March Nehemiah Bryce, 27, of Winson Green, was shot dead just a few hundred metres away, in Rodway Close, after a chase. On December 23 last year, Assar Joseph Mohammed Tomlinson was shot dead during a row outside the King of the Road pub in Hospital Street.
On April 1, a teenager and another man were injured when a youth burst into the City Internet shop and fired several shots.
"It is a tragic loss of life," said Chief Superintendent Mick Treble. "We would like to send out an appeal for calm. Where individuals have frictions between them we would ask them to work with the police and with other agencies instead of young people sadly losing their lives. A man who was a son, a brother and a friend has been lost and clearly that should be enough to make people think this is a crime that should not continue to occur. We are aware there are tensions between rival gangs in the community and are alive to that issue, and are working with the city council to enable young people to come together to resolve their differences."
Hockley Close was yesterday cordoned off while police conducted house to house inquiries and officers appealed for witnesses to come forward. A blue tent stood on the driveway outside the semi-detached house where Foskin was found.
A 26-year-old woman from the Newtown area of Birmingham who knew him said Foskin was "lovely, funny and gentle".
"I have no idea why somebody would want to do something like this," she said. "He was caring and laid back and he had a very close family. He was a family boy. The people who have done this can run, but they can't hide, and hopefully justice will be done.
Local residents yesterday complained that the area had recently become more dangerous, with guns increasingly prevalent. "It's all drug and gang-related," said Colin Murdoch, 46, a lorry driver. "There's just not enough policing in the area. We need more officers on the beat."
A 36-year-old woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "You only have to go to the shops to see people dealing on the corner. Shootings and stabbings are a regular occurrence round here - people need to get out of this area because it's getting worse. We definitely need more policing. People are afraid to go out at night and only come out of their houses at times like this, on a Sunday morning."
There were reports at the weekend of an emerging conflict in Birmingham between young gang members of the so-called Burger Bar Boys and the Johnson Crew. Last weekend, Matthew Sutherland, 29, was stabbed to death outside the city's Q Club in an attack that was reportedly related to the rivalry. In an alleged revenge attack, a woman was later shot in the arm and a man in the stomach outside an Irish club in the city.
Earlier this month there were two drive-by shootings in the Ladywood and Handsworth areas of Birmingham.http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/aug/25/ukguns.ukcrime