London Jan 23 (MP/BAN) Detectives investigating the murder of 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne-Blake in Tottenham have linked the gun used to kill her to another murder.
Forensic tests on the bullet recovered from her body have shown the same handgun was also used to kill Joseph Williams-Torres. Detectives believe it was a “gun to hire” circulating in the local area for at least a year.
Joseph, 20, died on 14 March 2018 on Essex Close in Walthamstow, in a case of mistaken identity. His three killers were jailed for life two weeks ago and the handgun, a Czech-made Browning with its serial number removed, was found wrapped in a towel inside a bag by a member of the public on Tudor Close N6 on 19 May 2018.
Tanesha was with friends when she was shot in the heart from a vehicle on Chalgrove Road, N17 shortly before 21:35hrs on 2 April 2018. Tragically she did not survive the attack and died at the scene.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil John, Specialist Crime, said: “There is no suggestion the murders of Tanesha and Joseph are linked in terms of what happened but we know the same gun was used. Fortunately this very dangerous weapon is now off the streets but we believe it was a ‘gun to hire’ in the local area from at least May 2017. It killed two people and we know it was also used in three other crimes.
“Joseph died in a gang-related murder – he wasn’t part of a gang and was mistaken for someone else. We believe those who shot Tanesha are involved in separate gang activity and she died as the result of ongoing territory disputes in the area. Tanesha had no links to gangs whatsoever.
“I understand that people may feel concerned about coming forward in these circumstances but we will treat all information in confidence. I strongly believe there are people in the local community who know who killed Tanesha and I would urge them to come forward. The killers of Joseph are now serving life in prison thanks to a strong body of evidence again them. Please help us build the case against Tanesha’s killers and bring justice to her family who naturally are still very much struggling with their overwhelming grief and loss.
”Equally we’d be keen to hear from anyone with information about the gun and its movements during this period, how did it end up in the hands of Tanesha’s killers and then dumped in the N6 area? If you have any information that could help, no matter how small, please call us. It is almost two years since Tanesha was murdered but regardless of the passage of time we remain relentless in our search to bring her killers before the courts.”
Tanesha, who had seven siblings and half-siblings, died just 13 weeks before her 18th birthday. She regularly attended Bruce Grove Youth Space in Haringey, volunteering to become a mentor to other young people and was hoping to become a qualified youth worker. Friends and colleagues described her as having a “bubbly personality” and someone who “lit up a room” with her presence. She loved working with children and helping people with disabilities. Her family have previously released images of her aged 10 completing a bike ride and another aged 12 taking part in a march, both events aimed at stopping knife and gun crime.
The vehicle used in the shooting was a grey/silver Vauxhall Meriva people carrier with blacked out rear windows and the registration number KS56 NKG. Detectives know it was parked under Martlesham House on the Broadwater Farm Estate between Thursday, 22 and Sunday, 25 March 2018. Officers don’t know where it was kept or used between 25 March and Tanesha’s murder on 2 April – do you have any information?
It is believed there were at least two people inside the vehicle – likely more - and the fatal shot came from the back seats. Tanesha, who was socialising with a group of young friends - none of whom had any connection to gangs or violence - was shot once. At least two more shots were fired into the street, hitting the ground floor window of a property, but fortunately no one else was injured.
The suspect who fired the shots is described as a black male with a “slit or two in his left eyebrow”, probably a pattern shaven in. He wore black clothing, including black gloves.
The Vauxhall Meriva was found burnt out at Ludgrove Court on Fordham Road in Barnet on 7 April 2018 – detectives think it was left parked somewhere after Tanesha was shot – did you see it? The area has flats and shops – did anyone witness it being set alight who has yet to come forward?
DCI John, said: “We urgently need the help of the public to come forward with information, particularly around the movements of the suspect vehicle. We’re almost two years on but you would remember if you saw a vehicle being set alight. Please have the confidence to come forward.
“Tanesha’s loss is felt not just by her family but by her friends and the wider community in Tottenham, many of whom are young people who she helped steer away from violence. This callous and cowardly act resulted in a young woman’s life literally being stolen from her.”
Tanesha’s mum, who does not wish to be named, said: “I just want people to come forward to say what they know, it’s heart-breaking. Tanesha was innocent and had lots going for her, a lot of goals and dreams. Everyone at the youth club loved her and it broke a lot of the children’s hearts, up till now they can’t believe what’s happened. Tanesha was not somebody who got herself into problems. She had friends all over, she was always a peacemaker.
“It’s disgusting how youngsters are able to put their hands on guns like this. They really should be into doing something better with their lives rather than taking other people’s lives.”
There have been five arrests made so far as part of the investigation:
A 30-year-old man [A] was arrested on suspicion of murder on 6 April 2018. He was subsequently released under investigation pending further enquiries.
An 18-year-old man [B] was arrested on suspicion of murder on 14 March 2019. He was subsequently released under investigation pending further enquiries.
A 22-year-old man [C] were arrested on suspicion of murder on 14 March 2019. He was subsequently released under investigation pending further enquiries.
A 50-year-old man [D] was arrested on 25 March 2019. He was subsequently released with no further action.
A 26-year-old man [E] was arrested on 12 April 2019. He was subsequently released with no further action.
+ Timeline of the gun:
- 9 May 2017: Leyton Slots, Hoe Street, E17 - Two shots were fired into the premises as Joseph’s killers and a group of other males pursued a rival gang member before making off. They were later convicted of violent disorder and one of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
- 29 September 2017: Lea Bridge Road, E10 - A 27-year-old man was shot at multiple times from a van driving past. The victim suffered a wound to his leg. Three suspects were arrested but subsequently released with no further action. All lines of enquiry are complete at this time.
- 30 December 2017: Clova Road, E7 - A 39-year-old man was shot following an altercation with a group of males. There have been no arrests and all lines of enquiry are complete at this time.
- 14 March 2018: Essex Close E17 - Joseph’s murder.
+ The above incidents are all linked to one gang. Following Joseph’s murder it’s thought the gun was then offloaded to another gang.
- 2 April 2018: Chalgrove Road, N17 - Tanesha’s murder.
- 19 May 2018: Tudor Close, N6 - Gun recovered.
+ The firearm used was a Czechoslovakian made CA (Ceska Zbrojovka) model 50 .32 calibre (7.65mm Browning)
Anyone with information is asked to contact the police incident room in the strictest confidence on 020 8358 0100, tweet @MetCC or stay anonymous by contacting the charity Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111 - they will not ask your name or trace your call.
You can also visit www.fearless.org to pass on information anonymously about Tanesha’s murder and any other crime. Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity, and is also independent of the police.