POLICE and community leaders issued an appeal for calm today after a teenager was knocked down and killed as mobs of youths clashed on a Sheffield street, writes crime reporter Claire Lewis.
A murder inquiry has been launched after Abdulla Awil Mohamed, aged 18, from Burngreave, was hit by a car which mounted the pavement on Coleridge Road, Darnall, and also careered into a lamppost.
Locals told The Star gangs of youths had massed on the street, shouting and yelling, in the moments before Abdulla was killed.
In the hours leading up to the fatal collision on Thursday night, a series of other disturbances also broke out in Darnall - on Staniforth Road, Ribston Road and Nidd Road.
Police are also looking into violent clashes in recent days in Firth Park, and at Parkwood Academy in Shirecliffe. Residents living near the school on Longley Avenue West told The Star on Thursday the neighbourhood was ‘being turned into a war zone’, and believed the skirmishes at the school were racially-motivated.
Chief Supt Simon Torr, Sheffield’s district commander, said of Abdulla’s death: “An event like this does not sit in isolation. We have tensions between young people from different parts of the city.
“There were groups of young people from different parts of the city in Darnall at the time of the incident.
“They are not organised crime groups, or big formal ‘postcode gangs’ - they are groups of young people from different backgrounds.”
Police and community leaders today appealed for calm.
Around 100 police officers are working on the case, many of whom arestreets of Darnall, and officers have been issued with special Section 60 powers, giving them permission to search anyone they find.
Yesterday a white police tent had been erected at the scene of the collision, and another tent had been placed over a small red car, while scenes of crime officers in white suits, gloves and masks carried out a search of the area.
A large section of Coleridge Road, all gennels leading to the scene, and a playing field near Phillimore Community Primary School were sealed off with police tape and officers were standing guard at both ends of the street.
Locals residents - most of whom were too afraid to be identified - told The Star gangs clashed before the fatal collision, and said the victim was rumoured to have been involved in an altercation earlier in the day.
One young mum who lives on Coleridge Road said she heard shouting just before police cars started to arrive.
“There was that much shouting and it was so loud it honestly sounded like a football match - then it all went quiet,” she said.
“When I looked outside I saw loads of police cars and a body lying on the pavement - it was awful.
“I feel sorry for this young man’s family - he was so young.”
Another woman, who saw the teenager’s body slumped on the ground, said: “I saw lots of people hanging around. Young lads were scattered everywhere.”
Leanne Platts, 20, who lives in Darnall, said: “I was outside on the night this happened and saw a big gang of youths, probably aged between 16 and 20.
“Its nothing new to see big gangs round here - they are usually drinking and smoking and people find it intimidating, especially if they say something to you. It’s scary to think this happened.”
Detectives have arrested four people on suspicion of murder. They were quizzed all day yesterday and were still being held in police custody last night.