Thursday, 2 Feb 2023

Terrified mourners scream as shots are fired from car

Panic erupts inside church moments after drive-by gunmen opened fire on funeral: Mourners scream and run for cover as shots are fired from ‘blacked out’ car in ‘revenge attack on guest’ that left girl, 7, critical and injured four women and child, 12

  • A horrifying video has shown the panicked scenes after a gunman opened fire
  • The mass shooting happened inside a church on Phoenix Road, North London 
  • Four women and two girls aged seven and 12 have been injured in a shooting
  • The victims were guests at the double funeral of a mother and daughter 
  • Did you witness the shooting? Email [email protected] 

A horrifying video has shown the panicked scenes inside a church after a gunman opened fire on funeralgoers, leaving a seven-year-old girl fighting for her life and injuring five others.

The victims were shot as they exited a funeral service for British-Colombian cancer victim Sara Sanchez, 20, and her mother Fresia Calderon, 50, outside St Aloysius church on Phoenix Road opposite Euston railway station in North London about 1.30pm on Saturday.   

A police source told The Mail on Sunday a man jumped out of the car and started firing into the crowd as white doves – symbols of peace – were released. 

A manhunt is now underway for the gunman, who is on the run, with officers looking for a 2019 model black Toyota. 

Police forensic officers remain on the scene this evening amid an ongoing investigation

It is believed the drive-by shooter may have been targeting a guest at the funeral as part of a revenge attack.

Shocking footage has since emerged showing the chaos inside the church as the mass shooting began.

Grieving churchgoers can be heard screaming and running for safety back inside the church, with one person shouting, ‘we need to get out’ while another said, ‘get to the back’.

Others were heard crying, some shouting ‘oh my god’ and others being told to ‘sit down’. 

One woman who attended the funeral said last night: ‘People are saying the intended target of the shooting was a man who attended the service.

Single mum Fresia Calderon and her daughter Sara Sanchez died within a month of each other

A invitation to Saturday’s double-funeral shared on Facebook asked mourners to wear white when attending the North London church 

Did you witness the shooting? 

Email [email protected] 

‘There’s speculation that it was some sort of revenge attack.’

Superintendent Jack Rowlands from the Met Police called the shooting a ‘senseless act of violence’.

Met Police confirmed last night six people in total were injured in the attack; four women aged 21, 41, 48 and 54, along with two children aged 12 and seven.

The 48-year-old woman has ‘potentially life changing injuries’, the force said. 

The seven-year-old girl ‘remains in hospital in a life threatening condition’ after she was rushed to a hospital with a major trauma centre as a priority. 

The 12-year-old child has now been discharged and is expected to make a full recovery. 

A manhunt is now underway to find the person responsible. 

It marks one of the worst mass shootings in London for decades. 

Horrified witnesses revealed they had to run for cover as a black car pulled up and ‘started shooting bullets’ out of nowhere into the crowd, who had gathered to celebrate the lives of the mother-daughter duo, who died within a month of each other in November.

One witness claimed to The Sun a suspect appeared to be chased into nearby Euston station. 

No arrests have been made and Met Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward and assist with the investigation.

The drive-by shooting happened on Phoenix Road in NW1, London

Police forensic officers remain on the scene this evening amid an ongoing investigation

Forensic officers remain at the scene, which is still cordoned off this morning.

Witnesses told MyLondon they were fired upon as they went outside to watch the flying of doves after the service. They ran for cover as a black car pulled up, seemingly out of nowhere, and ‘started shooting bullets’.

‘It was chaos. It was horrible. No one knew if it was a bomb or gunman,’ one said.

‘We were looking for places to hide. We all just snuggled into corners where we could. We left after about 10 minutes, I did not dare [leave before]. It was not nice.’

It is not yet clear how the victims knew the mother and daughter duo whose funerals they were attending.

Police are pictured at the scene of a shooting outside a funeral on Phoenix Road, next to Euston railway station

Police responded to reports shots were fired from a moving vehicle, during a funeral at St Aloysius

Fresia Calderon (pictured) died after suffering a pulmonary embolism after she arrived to Heathrow from Colombia on November 5

Fresia Calderon died after suffering a pulmonary embolism after she arrived to Heathrow from Colombia on November 5. 

Latest in tragic spate of shootings 

The shooting is the latest case of innocent bystanders getting caught up gun crime plaguing the UK.

Elle Edwards, 26, was shot dead in the beer garden of the Lighthouse Pub in Wallasey, Merseyside, on December 24.

Deliveroo moped rider Guilherme Messias Da Silva, 23, was hit and killed by a driver who was shot eight times in a gang shooting in Brixton last October.

Nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel was shot dead after a masked gunman burst into her home in Dovecot, Liverpool last August.

Council worker Ashley Dale, 28, suffered fatal gunshot wounds in the garden of her home in Old Swan, Liverpool, last August.

19-year-old Rio Jones of Liverpool was last week jailed for life for opening fire in Toxteth, shooting a 15-year-old schoolgirl in the neck in March 2022.

Three-year-old Sophie Martyn was killed alongside her father Lee during a shooting spree in Plymouth in which six people died in August 2021.

Four gangsters were jailed after fashion student Natalie Bignall, 32 was hit by a stray bullet outside a pub in Hackney, east London in November 2020.

Her daughter Sara Sanchez, who had been diagnosed with leukaemia three years ago, succumbed 25 days later after ‘giving up all hope’, according to a family member. 

Sara was diagnosed with leukaemia in May 2020 and after six months of chemotherapy experienced two years in remission. She relapsed in July 2021 and required a bone marrow transplant.

It was her mother who instilled hope that she would recover on days when she otherwise felt like giving up. So after Fresia’s sudden and unexpected death, relatives say she struggled to carry on. 

The duo, along with Sara’s younger brother, had travelled to Colombia for a ‘final goodbye’ and were on their way back when Fresia collapsed in front of both children.

An invitation to the funeral, seen by MailOnline, asked grievers to wear white to the church. 

Father Jeremy Trood, who conducted the service at St Aloysius church, said: ‘I heard a big bang and police are in the church at moment. People who were leaving the church have rushed back in.’ 

He described the ceremony as a ‘Requiem Mass’ rather than a funeral.

‘They were very scared, people sheltered in the church until the police said they can leave but some of them were so scared they had to wait a while to get their confidence back up to go outside.

‘But I was in the church the whole time so I didn’t actually see what had happened.’

Queen Macauley was visiting a friend nearby to the church when she heard the gunshots. 

She told Sky News her ‘heart was racing’ when she saw people running and heard their screams.

She added: ‘It was quite chaotic.’ 

Pictures posted on Instagram last night from the funeral showed how a photograph of Fresia and Sara hugging each other had been placed by the altar during the service. 

Although the service was for two members of London’s Colombian community, a mourner said fellow guests were from a wide variety of backgrounds, with ‘British Colombians’ a minority. 

Mourners invited to the ‘celebration mass’ for the two women were asked to wear white. 

Stephanie, who lives near the church, said her 11-year-old daughter had been walking home from a friend’s house and saw someone lying on the ground before the police arrived. She added that an emergency services helicopter had made an aborted landing in front of their home before flying off and eventually landing in a nearby school playground.

When emergency services arrived at the scene, they found the victims suffering bullet wounds on a small side street near Euston station.

Single mum Fresia Calderon and her daughter Sara Sanchez died within a month of each other

It was Sara’s mother who instilled hope that she would recover on days when she otherwise felt like giving up. So after Fresia’s (pictured) sudden and unexpected death, relatives say she struggled to carry on

The church remains closed as of Saturday evening, with detectives still on the scene as investigations continued into last night. 

Superintendent Ed Wells said: ‘Any shooting incident is unacceptable, but for multiple people, including two children, to be injured in a shooting in the middle of a Saturday afternoon is shocking.

‘Our thoughts are with all the victims, but in particular with the seven-year-old girl who is in a life threatening condition and with her family.

‘An investigation into this dreadful attack is already well under way involving local officers and specialist detectives. I can assure the communities of Camden and beyond that we will do everything we possibly can to identify and bring to justice those who were responsible.

‘Local residents can expect to see an increased visible police presence in the area through the weekend and into the days ahead as we progress this investigation.’

All four sustained gunshot wounds when unidentified perpetrators performed a drive-by shooting outside St Aloysius church (pictured) on Phoenix Road

The Met released a statement claiming initial enquiries suggest the shots were fired from a moving vehicle which quickly fled the scene

The Met released a statement claiming initial enquiries suggest the shots were fired from a moving vehicle which quickly fled the scene. 

Officers initially said a seven-year-old and three women were hurt but later updated this as it emerged six people in total had sustained injuries.

‘There is a significant police presence in the area. An urgent investigation is underway and details of the incident are still emerging,’ the statement read.

‘At this early stage there have been no arrests.’

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: ‘We sent three ambulance crews, five paramedics in fast response cars, an advanced paramedic and two incident response officers to the scene.

‘We also dispatched London’s Air Ambulance. The first paramedic arrived in around five minutes.

‘We treated four people at the scene, one of whom was seriously injured and was taken to a major trauma centre, as a priority. The others were taken to hospital.’

It is not yet clear how the victims knew the mother and daughter duo whose funerals they were attending, or why the funeral service was targeted

The Met released a statement claiming initial enquiries suggest the shots were fired from a moving vehicle which quickly fled the scene

Police cordons have been established in the area surrounding the church, and traffic is slow moving in the area

Tragedy which led to Saturday’s joint funeral 

The shooting yesterday came in the wake of a heartbreaking family tragedy. Fresia Calderon and her daughter Sara Sanchez had died just 25 days apart.

Ms Sanchez had been diagnosed with leukaemia in 2020 and spent nearly three years of her life trying to defeat the disease. After raising more than £30,000 to try to treat it, Ms Sanchez was eventually told the treatments had not worked.

Determined to make the most of her final weeks, Ms Sanchez decided to travel with her mother and 11-year-old brother to Columbia to visit family.

On their way back to the UK, Ms Calderon began to feel unwell and collapsed in front of Sara on the airplane steps at Heathrow Airport. She died from a blood clot on November 5 last year.

After her mother’s death, Ms Sanchez refused to take any further treatments for leukaemia, including chemotherapy which could have extended her life.

Just 25 days later, she succumbed to her illness and passed away.

A family member said: ‘[Fresia] said that she felt very lightheaded and collapsed in front of both Sara and her younger brother. Although the emergency services worked tremendously hard to save her life, Fresia sadly passed away at the scene.

‘The family travelled to Colombia after receiving the devastating news that the treatment… had not been successful.

‘Fresia’s unexpected passing hurt Sara beyond repair. Sara gave up all hope for her future and lost the drive to fight cancer.’

Family members described how Fresia and Sara had enjoyed a blissful time dancing in Colombia with family and friends during their holiday.

Sara’s cousin Darcy Diaz, 24, said: ‘She could definitely dance better than me, Sara’s hips did not lie. I remember her being very upset when coming back to London. Coming back to reality, coming back to palliative care.’

She added: ‘She just wanted to be with her mum. We just had to accept Sara had done all this treatment to make her mum happy and be with her. The moment she passed away I knew Sara was going to go soon after.’

One resident of an estate across the road from the church, who did not want to give her name, said: ‘I heard the gunshots.

‘I was having a quiet day on my balcony and I heard this almighty bang and I thought this was not normal, and the next minute everyone was screaming and shouting.

‘We have a food bank there and everyone was running off. Neighbours came in and said there has been a shooting. What a terrible thing.’

Sue, 54, a resident of the block next to the church who preferred not to give her last name, said the shooting victims were ‘lucky to get an ambulance’ given the current crisis in the NHS.

She said: ‘I heard screaming going on but that is not unusual for around here. I heard shouting and I came out and saw the police and ambulances.

‘They must have caught the car on CCTV, round here it would got stuck in traffic.’

Police cordons have been established in the area surrounding the church, and traffic is slow moving.

Bus routes have been placed on diversion. Motorists travelling through the area have been warned of a significant police presence, and to expect delays.

Labour leader Keir Starmer issued a tribute to the victims on Twitter this evening, stating: ‘I am deeply shocked by the shooting in Euston and want to thank the emergency services for their response. My thoughts are with the victims.’

And London Mayor Sadiq Khan also spoke out about the ‘deeply distressing’ attacks.

Mr Khan said: ‘This is a deeply distressing incident and my thoughts are with those who were injured and their families.

‘A police investigation is now under way and I am in close contact with the Met Police to determine what happened.’

Home Secretary Suella Braverman also volunteered her support to police as the investigation continues.

‘I am deeply concerned by the shocking shooting incident in Euston this afternoon, which has sadly involved a seven-year-old girl and several women. 

‘My thoughts are with them and their families,’ she said.

‘The @metpoliceuk have my full support to conduct a thorough investigation and catch those responsible for this terrible crime.’

Anyone who witnessed the incident or who has information about what took place should call 101, giving the reference 3357/14JAN.

Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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Bus routes have been placed on diversion. Motorists travelling through the area have been warned of a significant police presence, and to expect delays

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