Hackney shooting: girl, nine, in critical condition and three men wounded

<span>Closed off section of road on Thursday at scene of shooting in Kingsland High Street.</span><span>Photograph: James Manning/PA</span>
Closed off section of road on Thursday at scene of shooting in Kingsland High Street.Photograph: James Manning/PA

A nine-year-old girl is in critical condition after she was shot and left seriously wounded by a hitman on a motorbike while she ate with her family inside a Turkish restaurant.

Witnesses told of scenes of horror and terror after shots were fired from the motorbike, which pulled up outside Evin restaurant in Dalston, north-east London, letting off a volley of at least four rounds at about 9.20pm on Wednesday.

The restaurant owner told the Guardian he saw a man on the motorbike as diners dived for cover, and that the wounded child had been “very lively and happy in the moments before the shooting”. She was shot in front of her parents, with the mother distraught as her daughter lay critically wounded.

Parts of the incident, including the motorbike pulling up outside the restaurant, have been captured on CCTV, which detectives are examining.

Three men dining outside, aged 26, 37 and 42, were hit and wounded. At least one bullet entered the popular Turkish restaurant on Kingsland High Street, seriously wounding the girl.

Police do not believe she was known to the three men who were shot. Police said the injured adults were stable but one of the men had sustained “life-changing injuries.”

Police believe the attack was probably planned. The motorbike they believe was used in the attack was found abandoned a short distance away in Colvestone Crescent, about 200 metres from the scene of the shooting.

DCS James Conway said: “A nine-year-old girl, who was inside the restaurant having dinner with her family, suffered a gunshot wound and she remains in hospital in a critical condition. We do not believe that the girl and the men injured were known to each other. As with any child, she was an innocent victim of the indiscriminate nature of gun crime.”

The restaurant owner, Gazi Degirmenci, told the Guardian the wounded girl was with at least one other child and adults who were having dinner inside the restaurant: “The child was very lively and really cute,” he said. “I think at the moment the shots were fired she might have been jumping on the chairs … They were having dinner as a family. There was definitely another child, because that child was very scared.

“We just heard the gunshots … And after that it was over pretty quickly, five or 10 seconds, one minute at the most. A group were sitting outside at the front of the restaurant and it appears that they were targeted by [a man] on a motorbike. We were in shock and everyone fell to the floor and tried to protect themselves.

“There was loads of shouting and then we realised that one of the bullets had hit a child inside. The child was not with them [the three men outside], she was sitting at a table behind them.”

Speaking in Turkish, Degirmenci said the girl was one of a party of six people including her mother and father. He described the “unimaginable horror” of the moments after the mother and father realised what had happened: “We were in shock and everyone fell to the floor and tried to protect themselves. There was loads of shouting and then we realised that one of the bullets had hit a child inside.

“It’s so painful, we are so upset about what happened to that child. The mother was in a really bad way, as you can imagine, really bad, really bad. We tried to help as much as we could, we tried to stop the bleeding … It’s an unimaginable horror.

“I’m not sure about who the three men sitting in the front are, and if it’s some sort of gang war. But the biggest tragedy is clearly the child.”

The restaurant’s CCTV showed a man on a motorbike pulled up outside the restaurant before shots rang out. “Later when we looked at the CCTV we saw [a man] arriving by motorbike. They got close and then shot at these people. And then they fled,” Degirmenci said. “After looking at the CCTV it appears that five shots were fired.”

The pavement on Kingsland High Street close to the restaurant was busy. The restaurant also services deliveries, usually collected by couriers on bikes, and a motorbike pulling up would not have aroused immediate suspicion.

Detectives were securing and examining CCTV from the area to get any pictures of the shooting, the immediate aftermath and the attacker’s escape from the scene.

Firearms officers and paramedics were among those who attended the scene. Hundreds of people were said to be in the area of the shooting and police appealed to them to come forward, especially if they have any video.

No arrests have been made, according to the Met, which described the investigation as “fast-moving”.

A London ambulance service spokesperson said a doctor and paramedics attached to the air ambulance service and specialising in trauma – such as those caused by gunshot wounds – were dispatched via car.

Conway said: “Events such as these are rarely spontaneous. Someone knows who is responsible for this shooting that has left a little girl fighting for her life.”

The senior Met officer, who leads policing in the Hackney area, added: “The investigation is at an early stage and we are keeping an open mind as to the motive.”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The shooting that took place in Dalston last night was truly shocking and a horrific act of senseless violence. My thoughts are with all of those injured as well as their families, loved ones and the local community during this intensely difficult time … I urge anyone with any information to call the police ... There is no honour in staying silent.”

Police say anyone with information can call the incident room on 020 8345 3865 or the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.

• This article was amended on 30 May 2024 to clarify that Gazi Degirmenci saw one man on a motorbike, not two.