Teenage gunman locked up for eight years over gang shootout on Wolverhampton street
A teenager who opened fire at members of a rival gang with a sawn-off shotgun has been locked up for eight years.
An innocent man was wounded in the foot after being caught in the crossfire during the postcode gang battle that took place in broad daylight in Wolverhampton earlier this year.
One of the gunmen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to eight years behind bars at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday after admitting possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Meanwhile Micah Lewis, the target of the rival gang's gunfire, was locked up for helping the teenage gunman and Elijah Edwards, who has also admitted possessing a gun, will be sentenced in the New Year.
Interactive map shows where shootout happened:
Both Lewis and Edwards lived metres away from where the shootings happened.
The gunman was aged 16 when the attack happened and is now 17 but is still too young to be identified.
He was told by Judge Michael Challinor: "You were a member of a violent street gang with access to a lethal weapon which you used.
"Death or very serious injury could have followed. It put children and residents in lethal danger. This was the result of criminal and territorial rivalry between gangs."
The judge said there had been a “cloud of fear” hanging over an area of Wolverhampton caused by the conflict between the postcode gangs.
'Like they were water pistols'
Six shots were fired during the clash in Parkfield that flared up in the late afternoon of May 21 as children played nearby and residents ran for their lives, the court heard.
The violence started with a drive-by shooting from a car full of rival gang members who targeted Micah Lewis, now 20, outside his home in Legge Street, Parkfield.
A white Seat car with a masked gunman in the front passenger seat drove around the area hunting for Lewis, whose denial of being a member of the Parkfield gang was dismissed by the judge.
One of the men in the Seat opened fire on Lewis while he worked on a car outside his home. Shotgun pellets peppered the vehicle and the front of the house but Lewis was not injured by the blast, explained Mr Tom Walkling, prosecuting.
Moments later the defendant sentenced yesterday appeared armed with the double-barrelled sawn-off shotgun and opened fire at the Seat in nearby Joan Street.
Passer-by shot in the foot
The Seat continued to circle the estate until the gunman inside shot an innocent fleeing pedestrian in the foot in Willcock Road.
The victim saw the vehicle with the masked man in the front passenger seat coming towards him, turned and ran before hearing a shot and feeling a "warm, stinging pain" in his left foot where he had been hit.
He had not been a target and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
One eyewitness - too frightened to be named - later told police: "I could not believe what I was seeing. There were children playing in the street and I told them to get inside. I was in a desperate panic trying to reach a place of safety.
"It scared the living daylights out of me. It is the sort of thing you expect to see on TV not your own doorstep. Those involved seem to think it is fun - as if they were playing with water pistols."
Hiding the shotgun
After the shootout, the Parkfield gang put the gun in a holdall which 19-year-old Elijah Edwards helped hide under a bush where it was later found reloaded by police.
The bag also contained five live rounds of ammunition, two spent cartridges and blue gloves worn by the shooter with traces of gunfire residue and the blood of the youth on them.
Lewis allowed Edwards and the youth – who changed their clothes in a bid to escape detection – to hide the discarded garments in his car.
He and Edwards had been seen with the bag earlier in the day at nearby Phoenix Park.
Lewis was given two years eight months detention in a Young Offenders Institution after admitting assisting an offender.
Edwards, from Pond Lane, Parkfield, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and will be sentenced in the New Year.
Car gunman still at large
Mr Andrew Mitchinson, defending the youth, said: "He accepts he fired the gun on that fateful afternoon.
"He wants to apologise to his mother - who has had to change her home and job - and the local community for taking part in extremely dangerous gang warfare where children were playing in the street."
The men in the white car were never identified but police collected evidence of six shots being fired during the confrontation - two from the white car and four from the Parkfield gun which had been stolen during a Leicestershire burglary in March.
The number of incidents involving "postcode gangs" had been a major worry for Wolverhampton police since December 2016 but there has been a significant reduction since August this year.
Sgt David Stanley, from the organised crime gangs police team, said this followed a successful series of investigations and arrests.
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