Liverpool shootings: what happened to Rhys Jones 15 years ago, and does city have a problem with gun crime?

Olivia Pratt-Korbel,9, was killed at her home in Dovecot on the 15th anniversary of the shooting of 11-year-old Rhys Jones by Sean Mercer

The fatal shootings of Sam Rimmer, Ashley Dale and Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Liverpool just days apart have shocked the country.

Olivia Pratt Korbel, who was just nine-years-old, was shot in her own home on Monday.

Her death came on the 15th anniversary of the shooting of schoolboy Rhys Jones.

A series of non-fatal shootings have taken place in the Merseyside area this year - including an incident in which a 15-year-old girl was shot on her way home from school.

But does Liverpool have a problem with gun violence, and what are police doing in light of the recent shootings?

Just after the 15th anniversary of the shooting of schoolboy Rys Jones, Liverpool has seen two other fatal shootings in recent days - one of who was a child.

Who was Rhys Jones?

Eleven-year-old Rhys was shot by 16-year-old Sean Mercer on his way home from football practice in Croxteth, Liverpool, on August 22 2007.

Everton fan Rhys was caught in the crossfire of a turf war between Liverpool street gangs, the Croxteth Crew and the Strand Gang from Norris Green.

Mercer, who was jailed for a minimum of 22 years for the killing, blasted three bullets across a pub car park after targeting gang rivals who had strayed on to his turf.

Rhys was caught in the line of fire and shot in the neck. He died in his mother’s arms a short time later.

The city is reeling from the shooting of Olivia Pratt-Korbel on the anniversary of the murder of Rhys.

However, the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner denied that Liverpool had failed to change following his death.

“I think we’re a very different city to what we were 15 years ago,” she said.

“The culture is very different – I think if you’d looked at before this week, you would see a downward trajectory, we have the lowest firearm discharges in 21 years.”

Rhys Jones was killed 15 years ago.

Who are the victims of the most recent shootings?

Sam Rimmer: The 22-year-old was shot in Dingle on Tuesday, 16 August.

Sam, from Bootle, was with friends on Lavrock Bank when he suffered a gunshot wound to the upper body and was seriously injured. Despite being given CPR by emergency services at the scene, he was pronounced dead a short while later at hospital. During a series of police raids on Wednesday a 20-year-old man from Liverpool city centre was arrested on suspicion of Mr Rimmer’s murder.

A 21-year-old man, from Dingle, and a 17-year-old boy from Liverpool city centre were also arrested on suspicion of the murder later in the day.

Sam Rimmer was shot in Dingle. Image: Merseyside Police

Ashley Dale: Miss Dale,28, was found with gunshot wounds in the back garden of her Old Swan home in the early hours of Sunday 21 August.

She received medical treatment at the scene but was taken to hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

Police believe Ms Dale, a graduate who worked in the environmental health team at Knowsley Council, was not the intended victim.

Ashley Dale, 28, was shot at her home in Liverpool. Image: Family handout

Olivia Pratt-Korbel: The nine-year-old died following a shooting in Dovecot on Monday night (23 August). Olivia was at home with her two older siblings when her mother Cheryl Korbel opened the door after hearing gunshots outside.

Ms Korbel, 46, was shot in the wrist as she tried to close the door on the gunman while Olivia stood behind her. While a man suspected to be the target of the masked gunman who killed Olivia has been arrested in relation to breaching the terms of his prison release.

Tributes including flowers and teddies have been left near the scene of the shooting amid shock at Olivia’s death.

A nationwide appeal has been launched for the UK's "criminal fraternity" to turn in the gunman who killed nine year old Olivia Pratt-Korbel.

Does Liverpool have a problem with gun crime?

In 2021-22 Merseyside Police recorded 211 firearm offences - a 51% increase on the previous year where there were 140 offences.

However it remained lower than pre-pandemic levels where 227 offenes were recorded.

Violent crime across the region has been increasing consistently in recent years, according to the Home Office data.

Merseyside Police have issued press releases concerning 14 suspected killings, 11 non-fatal stabbings and 13 non-fatal shootings since the start of 2022.

By comparison, there were 17 homicides recorded by the force across the whole of 2021/22, according to the latest Home Office figures.

Among the non-fatal shootings was that of a 15-year-old girl who was shot on her way home from school.

The incidents this year took place on the following dates:

2 August – Police attend a scene in Walton following reports of an injury shooting.

31 July – Officers receive reports of a man shot in the leg in the car park of a pub on Church Road in Rainford.

10 July – Investigation launched after reports of a man shot and injured in the Croxteth area.

6 July – Two men arrested after man shot in the legs in West Derby.

11 May – At around 10.40pm, a 17-year-old male arrived at Arrowe Park Hospital in Birkenhead with a gunshot wound to his leg.

5 May – Detectives appeal for witnesses to come forward following a shooting in Fazakerley.

26 April – Another injury shooting takes place in Wavertree in the early hours of the morning.

19 April – At around 3pm officers were called to a report that a man had been shot in an alleyway on Rosalind Way, suffering serious injuries.

20 March – Police arrest three men following reports a man was shot and injured in Croxteth on the night of 20 March.

22 March – A man suffers life-changing injuries after being shot in the Woodchurch area of Merseyside.

1 March – An 15-year-old girl shot while standing at a bus stop on her way home from school on Upper Warwick Street, police say. A 20 year-old man also suffered a non life-threatening gunshot injury to his hand in the incident.

16 January – A man in his 20s attends the Royal Liverpool University Hospital with gunshot wounds to his chest and arms.

1 January – A 33-year-old man is shot in the torso at a car park at the Netherton pub on Church Road as he entered a car. He was taken to hospital for treatment and has since been discharged.

Tributes at the scene in Liverpool where Olivia Pratt-Korbel died.

What are police doing in response to the shootings?

A series of raids were carried out as part of Operation Miller, the force’s ongoing response to serious and organised crime.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen, head of investigations at Merseyside Police, said: “This morning we have seen a series of warrants taking place right across Merseyside in response to serious and organised crime and also, obviously, the dreadful circumstances we have seen in the past week and the three murders.

“This is, in effect, Merseyside Police baring its teeth. So our serious and organised crime element or fraternity have decided to bare their teeth last week, but we are showing ours now.

“So it’s about reassuring our communities that we are on the front foot around keeping them safe, we are proactive, we’re hard-edged and we will take the fight to the criminal.