Police have arrested five men and teenagers for the attempted murder of Black Lives Matter activist Sasha Johnson in south London.
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Wednesday that it had made a series of arrests after stopping and searching a 17-year-old male on suspicion on Tuesday afternoon and finding a weapon on him.
"Following a search, he was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and possession with intent to supply class A drugs," by the Violence Suppression Unit in Southwark and Lambeth.
Further investigation led police to an address in Peckham, the area where the shooting occurred in the small hours of Sunday, 23 May. Three other men aged 18, 19 and 28 were arrested there "on suspicion of affray and possession with intent to supply class B drugs" — a likely reference to cannabis.
A fifth suspect, aged 25, was arrested in Peckham that evening following a car chase on suspicion of affray and failing to stop for police.
“While the investigation remains in its early stages, these arrests show that progress is being made," said Detective Chief Inspector Richard Leonard from the Met’s Specialist Crime Unit, who is leading the investigation.
"However, I would continue to appeal to those who may hold information about the events that led to Sasha receiving her horrific injuries, or about those responsible, to do the right thing and come forward and speak to police,” Leonard stressed.
The first arrest ironically appeared to vindicate the 'stop and search' powers granted to police, which has long drawn criticism of 'racial profiling' against black youths.
“These arrests are the result of instinctive local police work, combined with fast-time intelligence gathering, and shows the effectiveness of the various police teams in the Met working together," said Superintendent Kris Wright from the Central South Command Unit. “Local officers, supported by specialist teams, will continue to be in and around the Peckham area in the coming days and I continue to urge anyone with concerns to engage with them.”
Johnson, the 27-year-old founder of the Taking the Initiative Party (TTIP), is in a grave condition in hospital after she was shot in the head at 3am on Sunday morning at a garden party at Consort Road, SE15. Four black men barged into the back garden through a side gate and fired two shots.
Police do not believe Johnson was the target of the shooting, despite claims by TTIP that she had previously received death threats. Johnson, a graduate of Oxford University's Ruskin College, is reportedly the mother of either two or three children.