‘This is Leigh, not London’: A night of extreme violence in a town where ‘trouble has been brewing’

This morning, the town of Leigh woke in shock – reeling from two incidents of the most extreme violence.

Many residents told the MEN that ‘trouble had been brewing’ in their area.

But until now, they did not believe it was the kind that would end in gunfire.

Two men were targeted in the space of a few hours. One was, for a time, fighting for his life.

The gunman remains at large – a manhunt underway.

But Leigh ‘isn’t a place where people get shot’.

READ MORE: Shooting victim fights for life as police are in major hunt for gunman

According to one resident, it’s the kind of place where disagreements are sorted out with ‘a scrap on Railway Road’, rather than with bullets or shells.

Police are searching for the gunman

Another told the MEN they were baffled where someone from the town could even get their hands on a firearm.

Even those who admit trouble has been brewing in the area, said they were stunned at the level of violence visited upon their town.

One man living on Tennyson Avenue close to Shadwell Grove – the location of the second shooting – said something like this had been ‘brewing’ in the area, however, he was shocked to find that guns were involved.

The first gunshot was reported at Hawthorne Grove

Hawthorne Grove this morning, where the first gunshot was reported

They told the MEN: “ This has been coming this, it’s been brewing.

“I moved here three years ago and there was always some trouble around here, gangs and fights.

“What I wanna know is where the f*** did they get these guns?”

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Two men were rushed to hospital following the shootings

Emergency services were called to two different scenes on Wednesday evening (January 26).

A double shooting – one on Hawthorne Grove at around 5:45pm and the other on Shadwell Grove a short while later – landed two men with serious injuries.

Following the incident, a helicopter was scrambled to circle the Westleigh area just before 6pm.

Residents watched as police cars – with blue lights flashing – sped up and down Wigan Road and Westleigh.

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Following the incident, a helicopter were scrambled to circle the Westleigh area

One woman who spoke to the MEN was shopping at the Asda on Atherleigh Way when it all kicked off.

She said: “It was like The Purge, all I heard were sirens and saw lots of police, I wanted to get home as soon as possible.

“You’d expect something like this in London, not Leigh, usually people just have a scrap on Railway Road and get on with it.”

Another resident was worried about the safety of their neighbourhood close to near Hawthorne Grove.

Putting it bluntly, he said: “It’s s*** isn’t it?

“I feel safe right now with all the police here, but when they’re gone what’s gonna happen then?”

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One resident described the scene as like something from “The Purge”

The two locations were barely a mile away from each other.

Police have confirmed the victims, one in his 30s and the other in his 20s, were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.

The MEN understands the man in his 20s suffered life-changing injuries to his legs in the first shooting on Hawthorne Grove, and the man in his 30s suffered significant injuries to his body and legs.

GMP also confirmed the shootings could be linked and a single shooter – who remains at large.

Police on Shadwell Grove in Leigh following a shooting

Police guard the scene on Shadwell Grove, the scene of the second shooting

This morning (January 27), a number of cordons remained in place as police tried to piece together what had happened.

Another resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, said they heard the first gunshot that was fired on Hawthorne Grove,.

They immediately became worried after seeing the ambulance and police cars that swarmed the area.

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GMP also confirmed the shootings could be linked and a single shooter

He said: “I was in my house when I heard a loud bang, I thought it was some lads showing off with their bikes but then I heard the helicopter and saw police.

“I got worried because my partner was out shopping.

“It’s not nice because the last twelve months there’s been a lot of fights in the area, we’re thinking of moving.”

Both victims are now in a stable condition and remain in hospital.

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Chief Superintendent Emily Higham, of GMPs Wigan Division, said: “Enquiries are still very much on going today and we are following a number of leads to try and locate the offenders.

“We are appealing to the public to please get in touch with police if you have any information at all, as the slightest bit of information could really help us with our investigation.

“I understand that the local community will be worried and so we do have extra patrols in the area for reassurance.

“Please do stop and speak to our officers if you have any concerns at all.

“Our initial enquiries lead us to believe that this has been a targeted attack and we are currently following some significant lines of enquiry.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 0161 856 9101 or 0943 quoting 2599 26/01/22 or the independent charity – Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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