BMX boy, 15, shot dead in the 'British Bronx'

BMX boy, 15, shot dead in the 'British Bronx'
By ANDREW CHAPMAN, The Mail on Sunday

9th September 2006

Shot: Jessie James was targeted in gun attack

A 15-year-old schoolboy died in a hail of bullets yesterday after being ambushed as he cycled home from a party.

Police said Jessie James - who shares the same name as the American outlaw gunned down in 1882 - was deliberately targeted in Manchester's Moss Side area, dubbed 'The Bronx of Britain'.

But his family said he was a tragic victim of mistaken identity.

Yesterday, forensic experts cordoned off Moss Side Community Park and erected a tent over Jessie's body, before it was removed for a post mortem. And last night Jessie's mother Barbara was taken by police to identify the body, accompanied by her daughter Rosemary.

Jessie's BMX bike lay on the grass where he fell, before the gunman pumped more bullets into him as he lay dying.

The notorious, and dangerous, Moss Side area of Manchester

Floral tributes piled up at the scene, just 500 yards away from his family's tidy ex-council terraced home in Greame Street, and close to the Power House Community Centre where Jesse was a member.

A family spokeswoman said his mother was too upset to talk and said: "Everyone is devastated by this terrible tragedy. Jessie was a wonderful young lad with everything to live for.

"We cannot begin to imagine why he should have been so cruelly gunned down in this way, he had nothing to do with guns, drugs or gangs. It must be a case of mistaken identity."

A spokeswoman from Manchester Academy, where Jesse was a student, laid a single red rose in tribute and said: "You could talk to Jessie, he was a good artist. He was academically able but he has been cut short. He had a bright future."

Police were called at 2.40am yesterday following reports that a black teenager had been found unconscious and not breathing.

Officers were yesterday checking CCTV footage in the hope the killers were caught on camera. Superintendent John O'Hare appealed for calm and said more police would be put on the street in case of reprisal attacks in an area that has long been blighted by gang warfare.

He said: "To those who know who pulled the trigger we urge you to examine your conscience and contact us. This was not a random attack, this was a deliberate attack on the individual."

But tension within the largely black community is mounting over the police handling of the case. Pastor Anthony Weekes said the family felt they had been kept in the dark about Jesse's death.

The Rev Weekes, whose own son was gunned down, said Jesse came from a Christian family and was a gentle teenager who loved music, football, swimming and weightlifting and who "was just in the wrong place at the wrong time".

The park is flanked by Great Western Road - dubbed Wild Western Road because of the number of shootings there.

Jessie is the youngest fatality of the Moss Side gang wars since innocent Benji Stanley, 14, was shot dead in January 1993.

A 26-year-old man was stabbed to death during a fight on playing fields in Corby, Northamptonshire, early yesterday.
My, all that lovely gun control is doing the Brits a lot of good, eh?

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