Two men have died and a third has been left critically injured after a shooting in east London.
Neighbours told how they mistook the sound of gunfire for fireworks being set off as part of the Hindu Diwali festival celebrations.
There are strong suggestions the shooting is gang-related, with reports of one man in a joker mask seen running from the scene and others claiming those responsible for the violence fled in a Ford Fiesta car.
Police rushed to Henley Road in Ilford shortly after midnight on Tuesday after being called by the London Ambulance Service to reports of a fight in progress and shots fired.
Officers found three males, all of whom were suffering gunshot injuries. One of the victims, who was in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene. Another of the men died a short time after.
A statement issued by the police force said they believed they knew the identity of the victim in his 20s, while work to confirm the identity of the other man was ongoing.
Meanwhile, officers were working to inform their next of kin.
The third man, who was in his 30s, is in a critical condition in hospital.
There have not yet been any arrests in relation to the incident.
Forensics officers can be seen going in and out of the property – believed to be a family home – while what appears to be a forensic tent has been erected in the front garden.
A police van is parked outside, with much of Henley Road cordoned off to the public and uniformed officers standing guard at either end of the section of road.
A nearby resident – who did not wish to be named – said his friend, who lives on the street – called 999 after seeing a man with a gunshot wound in the street.
He tried to resuscitate him.
Residents are being permitted to come and go under the tape.
A neighbour said there are five or six people who live at the house, including young children around four or five years old.
The resident, who did not wish to be named, said he heard gunshots but thought they were “fireworks” at first due to the Diwali celebrations.
Sohiab Ahmad, 29, who has lived on the road with his 33-year-old wife Raisa Patel for two years, said: “It was Diwali last night so there were lots of fireworks.
“There was a lot of noise so we didn’t hear anything.”
Local student Zain Mohammad, 19, said his friend lives on the road and heard the commotion.
He said: “My friend said two cars pulled up and shot at three people.
“But I don’t know much more than that.
“He said there was one Albanian, one black guy and one Asian who were shot.
Alex Raducu, 33, who has lived in the area for five years and works as a courier said he thought the shots were fireworks.
He said: “I thought it just was fireworks…It was crazy, I then heard a helicopter flying around above me.
“It was there for 10 or 15 minutes.”
The dad-of-one who lives with three generations of his family in Ilford said the news is shocking.
He said: “It’s terrible, I didn’t think much of the noise at the time.”
Another resident Shahz Mohammad, 27, has lived in the area for eight months and works at nearby Tesco.
He heard the helicopter hovering above him in the earth hours of this morning but thought it was news channels reporting on Diwali.
He said: “I heard what I thought were Diwali celebrations and then I heard the helicopter too.
“I assumed it was for news reporting, but this morning I realised something bad had happened.
“It scares me.”
A local business owner said he understands two rival gangs were involved, and believes the third victim, in his 30s, came out of his home after hearing the commotion outside and was shot.
One nearby neighbour told the Telegraph they had seen a man “wearing all black and a black Joker mask with a plastic nose” running through the neighbouring gardens just after the shooting. “My son aged nine was watching the fireworks and then saw a man wearing all black clothing with a joker mask run through the garden,” he said.
“He broke the fence of the next door garden and was running across the extensions.”
Neighbour Shamima Ahmed – who has lived on the street for two years – had been dropped off at home by her niece just prior to the shooting.
She said: “I heard the screaming. After around half an hour I opened the window to see what was going on. I saw helicopters and police. The shots I didn’t hear.”
Referring to the sound of screaming, she said: “I hear this quite often around this side. It was terrible because I live right upstairs. I have to be careful around this area. I’m not involved with the people around here, not much interaction.”
Farrah Naz, who owns Farrah’s Hair and Beauty, just down the street, said she is considering selling up and leaving the area.
“This area is going down and down. I think every day is turning very bad, drugs and fighting – I don’t know what’s going on with the younger generation.”
Asked about the shooting, she said: “Obviously it’s really upsetting.”
She added: “I’m thinking to move out.”
Another local said such incidents are not uncommon in the area.
“There’s always something going on. Someone across the road got stabbed and died not that long ago.”
Another added: “It can be quite intimidating to walk around here at certain times of day.”
Kashif Patel, a professional poker player, said: “Generally the area is alright, there’s restaurants and shops and people get on. Then you have got the other element of society who are not interested in community spirit and are fighting and doing drug dealing. There’s a lot of gang activity.
“Schools should doing a better job. Half the kids are out on the street.”
Asked what his reaction was when he heard about the shooting, he said: “Slightly shocked but then I just thought it’s another day. If you are in that life you are a target for rival gangs.”
The statement from police into the incident said: “An investigation is ongoing after two males were fatally shot, and a third left critically injured, following an incident in Ilford.
“Police were called by LAS at 00:16hrs on Tuesday, 25 October to Henley Road, Ilford, following reports of a fight in progress and shots fired.
“Armed officers were among those responding.
“At the scene officers found three males with gunshot injuries.
“One of the victims, aged in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene. Another of the victims died a short time later.
“Police believe they know the identity of the victim in his 20s. Work to confirm the identity of the other man is ongoing. Officers are working to inform their next of kin.
“The third victim, aged in his 30s, was taken to hospital, where he remains in a critical condition.
“At this early stage there have been no arrests.
“Enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing.
“Crime scenes and road closures are in place.”
Redbridge council leader Jas Attwal said: “People are rightfully concerned, people are rightfully worried. What we have to do is really reassure people that this is really an unusual occurrence.
“Police say the men know each other and for people like me who live here locally we can go about our business. That’s what I want to convey to my residents, to go about your business as usual.
“It’s a hard thing to do but the police are everywhere and the extra resources have been granted.”
He said more police, however, are still needed in the area and across London.
“Incidents like this bring everything to the fore. Every day our enforcement teams are out working with the Ilford Police team.
“We are doing that with less and less numbers. What happened here is not a case of would this have happened [if there was more visible police]. These things build up over time – that’s where the police are needed.”
Asked if he’d spoken to families of the victims, he said: “it’s too early. We have got to give some of these families time to grieve.”
He added that one of the victim’s families has been informed, from what he understands.