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Woman killed in Liverpool shooting 'was innocent bystander out with her sister'

Woman killed in Liverpool shooting 'was innocent bystander out with her sister'

A young woman killed after a gunman opened fire in a packed pub on Christmas Eve ‘wasn’t the original target’.

Police have today launched a murder investigation following the incident in Wallasey, Merseyside, last night.

Officers were called to the Lighthouse Inn at around 11.50pm following reports of gunshots.

A 26-year-old woman was taken to hospital with an injury in her head consistent with a gunshot wound and later died, police said.

They added that the woman is not thought to have been targeted.

She was out ‘enjoying Christmas with her sister and friend during what should have been a peaceful time.’

Detective Superintendent Sue Coombs said: ‘Tragically the victim, a 26-year-old woman had suffered a serious gunshot injury to her head.

‘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.’

Drinks could still be scene on tables this morning after pub-goers tried to escape the shooter

Four men were also taken to hospital with gunshot wounds and a number of others were injured in the incident.

One victim, a 28-year-old, is in a critical condition in hospital.

Merseyside Police added that shots were fired directly into the door of the Lighthouse Inn.

Photos from the scene show a number of drinks still left on tables and TVs still on inside the pub as terrified drinkers dropped everything to flee the scene.

A neighbour who heard shots said she assumed they were celebratory Christmas fireworks.

Jenny Hough, 77, said: ‘I heard the shots… I thought it was a firework actually, because it was nearly midnight.

‘I just thought it was people celebrating midnight on Christmas Day.’

Merseyside Police has now launched a murder investigation

The pub remains inside a police cordon

On waking to the news of a fatality and multiple injuries, Ms Hough said: ‘I couldn’t believe it. When I looked outside I thought ‘Oh crikey’. It’s a complete shock.

‘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.’

Ms Hough said she had heard the pub had been ‘so crowded’ that evening.

Another local resident, identified only by his first name Phil, said he was watching television at his home when he heard several ‘loud bangs’ last night.

‘Obviously it was gunfire, quite shocking,’ he told the Liverpool Echo. ‘It did seem to be an unusual sound so it didn’t appear to be fireworks to me.’ 

He said a ‘minute or two’ after the sound, people were seen leaving the pub: ‘Not running away or anything, just people congregating.’ 

‘We woke up this morning and we’re just really, really shocked,’ he added. ‘It’s just really resonating now especially knowing a young girl has died.

‘It’s just 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.’ 

On waking to the news of a fatality and multiple injuries, Ms Hough said: ‘I couldn’t believe it, when I looked outside I thought ‘oh crikey’. It’s a complete shock.

Drinkers fled the scene after the gunman opened fire on Christmas Eve

A number of bullets were fired into the pub it has been claimed

‘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.’ 

A spokesman for the Lighthouse pub said the shooting was ‘a tragedy beyond any words’.

In a statement, they said: ‘All our thoughts are with the friends and family of our customers and in particular our hearts go out to the family of our customer who has lost her life.’

The Lighthouse pub said it has given CCTV footage to the police.

A spokesman also said anyone who had Christmas Day bookings was being contacted and given a refund.

Detective Superintendent David McCaughrean, of Merseyside Police, 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 last 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.

‘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.’

Local MP Dame Angela Eagle said: ‘This is heartbreaking news – My thoughts are with the family of the woman who has died & those who are injured.

‘Anyone with any information please tell the police.’

Holy Apostles & Martyrs’ Parish Church in Wallasey also issued their support for the victims’ family and the community.

Police officers at the scene in Liverpool

The gunman opened fire inside the busy pub on Christmas Eve

A cordon is still in place in Liverpool this morning after the shooting last night

The church tweeted that ‘special prayers’ would be said at mass this morning for all the shooting victims. 

Jeffrey Hughes, minister of the United Reformed Church in Wallasey Village, said the nearby pub is central to the community.

He said: ‘Wallasey Village is a fairly lively area, it’s a nice part of Wallasey, its 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.

‘It’s a shock. When we first heard the news this morning that there’d been a shooting in Wallasey, Wallasey Village is the last place you would think of.’

Ashville Football Club also took to social media to condemn the ‘senseless act’ of violence that club officials say has ‘sadly been all too common in Merseyside this year.’ 

‘This incident has sent shockwaves throughout our neighbours and local community and we are saddened and appalled by this incident,’ the club’s statement said. 

‘This senseless act of violence was carried out at a packed out, popular local venue, filled with people of all ages and backgrounds on an evening that was supposed to be about community, giving, celebration and happiness.

‘Unfortunately it turned into a night of tragedy, heartbreak, fear and confusion thats to a few moments of madness of one individual.’

The club added: ‘Guns have no place on our streets and there is NEVER an excuse for using a firearm to inflict pain and suffering on anyone.’ 

Anyone with information is asked to direct message @merpolcc or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 quoting log 1044 of Saturday 24 December.


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