NEWS: Police “keeping an open mind” as investigations continue following the attack on Castle Vale High Street last week

Words by Ed King / Pics from the scene supplied by Castle Vale residents

Police were back on Castle Vale today, cordoning off areas around the High Street and St Cuthbert’s Church as they search for more clues after the widely reported attack on the High Street last week.

Following the discovery of spent shotgun cartridges near the scene of the crime, and continued reports of local residents having heard gun fire, officers are now “keeping an open mind” as they continue their investigations.

On Friday 5 April, police responded to an emergency call at around 5:10pm where masked individuals were seen brandishing machetes and chasing another man into the Nisa convenience store on the High Street.

No injuries were reported, and within 72 hrs the police had arrested an 18 year old and a 16 year old for violent disorder.

Under the Public Order Act 1986, violent disorder can carry a jail term of up to five years if the accused ‘used or intended to use firearm or other highly dangerous weapon.’

But from the most immediate reports, including those who claimed to have witnessed the attack or the immediate aftermath, many members of the public also told they had heard what they believed to be gun fire – taking to social media to warn others on the close knit North Birmingham estate.

The first post on the popular Castle Vale Community Facebook Page, following the incident, read: “Shots fired up by Nisa… 4 lads with long blades.

“Speed off in a car people please get your kids in doors as there’s a lot about the high Street. Armed police now here.”

One local mother also posted: “My son was by St Cuthberts (Church) when he heard the shots and saw lads with machetes running into a car. The car was not far from him and he turned straight back around.”

The initial response from West Midlands Police, however, was that there was “no evidence of any gun being fired”.

But following continued reports from people living around the area, and the discovery of spent shotgun cartridges near the scene, Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin (Labour) petitioned the police to step up their investigation.

On Saturday 6 April, the day after the initial attack, police returned to Castle Vale – using official police tape to cordon off the Pitstop Service Station and continue their forensic investigations.

Then again earlier today, Monday 8 April, blue and white tape was back up around the Tangmere Drive end of the High Street and St Cuthbert’s Church – with officers at the scene telling members of the public it was related to the attack last Friday.

In a report issued later, a spokesperson for West Midlands Police confirmed: “An investigation has been launched into violent disorder that took place in Castle Vale on Friday (5 April).

“We were called to reports of an armed group chasing another man into a shop on the High Street at around 5.10pm and a report of a firearm being discharged.”

They continued: “Cartridges have also been recovered nearby, and will be examined to see if they are linked to the investigation.

“We’re keeping an open mind and we’d ask anyone with information to contact us via Live Chat on our website, or by calling 101, and quote 20/380920/24.”

West Midlands Detective Chief Inspector James Spencer added: “We understand the worry this has caused the community and are doing everything we can to establish what took place.

“Today we will continue CCTV enquiries and will be speaking to witnesses. We will also have our forensics team searching the area.”

He added: “There will be an increased police presence in the area this week to offer reassurance to the local community.

“Please come and speak to us if you have any concerns or information.”

But one concerned Castle Vales resident, who lives near the crime scene and wished to remain anonymous, told Erdington Local: “I would like to know why the police have taken three days to investigate the reports of gunfire from local residents and eyewitnesses. 

“The residents of this estate have been let down yet again. If this had been a more affluent area of Birmingham the police would have been on it immediately and the relevant areas cordoned off for forensic investigation.”

They added: “The police were told there were gunshots, gun cartridges were found, what more evidence did they need.”

After hearing the updated statement from West Midlands Police, Councillor Ray Goodwin also commented: “I welcome the development that West Midlands Police have now acknowledged that residents reported fire arms being discharged.

“I am concerned that the community was not listened to on Friday; what’s important now is the police ensure there is a presence and the community feels safety in the community they live in.”

Following the attack last week, Cllr Goodwin has previously promised to hold a ‘Community Crime and Safety Summit’ to address concerns over crime and policing on the Castle Vale estate.

No date has been set for the summit, although Erdington Local has been told that following the elections for West Midlands Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner on 2 May – whomever is in office will be invited to attend.

The investigation into the attack continues.

If anyone has information regarding the attack on 5 April on Castle Vale, or that might aid the investigation, please contact West Midlands Police via their Live Chat:

Alternatively, people can call 101 and quote the crime reference number: 20/380920/24

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