Dancers screamed in terror as gangs began shooting in packed Hackney church

Sentencing will take place in August.

Sentencing will take place in August. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Innocent bystanders were injured in crossfire when two gangs began shooting in a packed Hackney church.

Gunmen fired indiscriminately into the crowded hall at a party in Crossways Church, Homerton High Street in the early hours of September 28 last year, the Old Bailey heard.

Dancers screamed in terror and trampled each other, desperately trying to flee. But bullets were flying across the exits and chairs were piled up blocking escape routes.

Ballistic reports found four different guns were fired in the building that night. Innocent party-goers, Shantelle Merrit and Damar Matthan, were both shot in a leg as they ran for safety.

Kemar Sawyers, 25, Ricardo Hunter, 32, and Mikkel Wright, 27 – who was also shot in the leg – are charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Sawyers also faces a charge of perverting the course of justice.

Prosecutor Sarah Plaschkes told the jury Ms Merrit went to the toilet, but there were men in there with the lights out.

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She returned to the dance floor to find people cowering behind pillars, before hearing gunshots.

She saw a man who had been shot being dragged across the floor, and panicked and tried to run away, but was shot in her thigh.

“Her friend Dionne pulled her back down and lay on top of her,” Ms Plaschkes said.

“She looked up and saw a black man holding a gun in his hand and moving it from left to right. He was smiling and walking to the front of the building and she lost sight of him.

“No eye-witnesses to the shooting have come forward to give evidence and this case rests on circumstantial evidence.’

Sawyers, of Trevor Road, Portsmouth, Wright, of College Green, Croydon, and Hunter, of Outwood Lane, Chipstead, Surrey deny possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. The trial continues.