PEOPLE in parts of Chickenley have been under siege for almost a week after a violent turf war broke out between alleged drug-dealers, with gunshots fired and cars and homes attacked.
It has resulted in multiple around-the-clock raids by police, involving armed units.
No-one has been reported seriously injured but The Press understands one family was moved by police for their own safety, after brewing tensions and minor attacks through last Friday night and Saturday escalated into all-out mayhem on Sunday evening.
There was still a visible police presence in the area yesterday (Thursday) but one worried mum contacted The Press to warn of further trouble.
“There is a gang of very, very angry people waiting for the police to leave the area. They are dangerous and not going to stop,” she said.
On Sunday evening, Cedar Drive in Chickenley was strewn with debris after a car was driven deliberately at a man in his 40s, before colliding with a lamppost and another vehicle. Another car was overturned. It is believed a caravan/mobile home in nearby Earlsheaton was deliberately set on fire as part of the escalating tit-for-tat attacks.
One resident told The Press it took police 40 minutes to respond in force, complete with riot vans, from the alarm first being raised on Sunday – but by then the warring factions had dispersed.
Residents reported seeing young men wielding baseball bats looking for rivals in Chickenley and Earlsheaton.
On Monday night there was a gun fired at a property in Princess Crescent and a car damaged, with police sealing off the road on Tuesday while forensic teams scoured the street.
A related shooting incident took place at a house in Bentley Road, in the Lupset area of Wakefield. Later on Tuesday night, armed police raided other properties with a force helicopter hovering overhead.
At dawn on Wednesday, around 4am, residents in the neighbourhood of Chickenley Lane were woken by armed officers raiding a flat. On videos circulating on social media, one officer is heard repeatedly shouting at the occupant to “come to the door now!”.
Local sources identified the tenant and said he had a violent reputation. It is not known if he was one of just two men arrested by police.
In the hours after Wednesday’s dawn raid, there were reports of vehicles driving at high speed through the village. One woman who opened her door to see what the commotion was, told friends that a young man bolted inside her property and hid. She said she was too terrified to raise the alarm.
Another resident, afraid to be named, said: “These lads all know one another and local people know what they’re up to with their drug dealing. But it sounds like there’s been a massive fall-out.
“The worst thing is that they’re not necessarily attacking one another – they’re going at the homes and the families of the young men involved, targeting innocent people. We’ve never seen anything like this before round Chickenley.”
The mum who contacted The Press on Thursday added: “It’s a serious situation that is growing. Police are present at the moment but it is angering people that they have not made more arrests. People are very angry and frightened.”
Dewsbury East councillor Aleks Lukic said: “There is a great deal of community concern about this disorder.
“The police have been in regular contact with councillors and I would encourage anyone with information to pass on what they know by ringing 101.
“I hope there will be no further incidents going into the school days, with children and young people spending more time outdoors.”
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Two men have been arrested as enquiries continue into linked incidents in Chickenley and Wakefield.
“A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of affray in connection with an incident on Cedar Drive, Chickenley, on July 14. He has been released on bail.
“A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence in relation to incidents on Princess Crescent, Chickenley, and Bentley Road, Wakefield, on July 15. He is currently in custody.”
Det Supt Pat Twiggs said: “I understand that these incidents and the resulting increased police activity in the area will cause some concern in our communities.
“I would stress that we are treating these as targeted attacks involving parties known to each other. We will not tolerate people taking the law into their own hands and clearly any use of a firearm is something we take extremely seriously.
“There are extensive enquiries ongoing and I would ask for the public to work with us as our investigation continues.”