A riot broke, set cars on fire, hurled fireworks at riot police and charged at police officers following a car crash in Ely, Cardiff where two teenagers are believed to have died last night (22 May).
The victims have been named as Kyrees Sullivan and Harvey Evans.
Kyrees’ mum Belinda begged the mob to stop rioting so her son could be taken to hospital.
She wrote on Facebook: “My son is still laying on the floor due to this riot I’m sat at home heartbroken there are 2 families broken right now.
“I just want to see my son and I can’t because of this riot that have happened pls I beg you all to stop and let my son be moved to hospital so I can see him we need to see our sons.”
It is not yet clear how the crash and riots are linked, but it is understood the crash took place before the riots.
Violence and mayhem in Cardiff
Hundreds of people brought violence and mayhem to a residential street, facing off against officers from South Wales Police.
Footage from the scene showed thugs launching fireworks, rocks, paving slabs and even a door at police before charging at them, with officers from the force charging back.
Officers faced what they called a “large scale disorder” after receiving reports of a crashed car on Snowden Rd, Ely around 6pm.
At least two cars were set on fire as trouble flared for hours, involving scores of youths, with many covering their faces with masks.
A fire was burning and a helicopter could be heard hovering overhead as rioters threw missiles, including fireworks, at the attended officers.
Police said the collision “had already occurred when officers arrived”.
Scenes being livestreamed on YouTube showed young people throwing fireworks and other missiles at a line of police officers with riot shields who were blocking one end of the street.
Shortly before midnight a car was set on fire and burned fiercely, while a second vehicle was overturned and set ablaze.
A member of the public was attacked due to rioters thinking they were an undercover officer, according to one of the senior officers at the scene.
Police, including mounted officers on horseback, were seen outside Ely police station in the early hours of Tuesday after suggestions it could be targeted.
Shortly before 3am, rioters moved down Highmead Road in Ely, followed by police who were trying to disperse them.
The rioters continued to attack police officers and at least 12 officers were injured.
Police chase “wasn’t the case”
“My understanding is that there was a road traffic accident involving two teenagers on an off-road bike or scooter and sadly they died,” South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said.
“That’s an incident obviously that is being investigated in its own right.
“And that appears to have sparked, for reasons that aren’t clear, the disorder that you’ve referred to in which something like a dozen officers were injured, fortunately none of them life threatening, and the connection between the two is far from clear.
“So obviously there’s going to be investigations going on this morning to try and establish what happened.
“It would appear that there were rumours, and those rumours became rife, of a police chase, which wasn’t the case.
“And I think it illustrates the speed with which rumours can run around with the activity that goes on on social media nowadays, and that events can get out of hand.”
“There was no attempt to communicate with the crowd,” a witness said
John Urquhart, the general secretary of the UK Harmony Party, lives in Ely and witnessed the incident escalate from the start of the evening.
He said: “The key thing right at the start was they did not communicate with the crowd, there was no attempt to communicate with the crowd and they showed nothing but disdain for the community and acted like we didn’t deserve to know what happened on our own doorstep.
“There was nobody going through the crowd crucially, I think the police really needed people to be out talking to the community and putting their minds at ease.”
“There were a very small number of people actually doing any sort of violence”
Mr Urquhart, who has lived in the area for the last few years, said the situation started to escalate at around 8pm.
“The vast majority of people who were stood in that street were stood there because they wanted to know what would happen next, there were a very small number of people actually doing any sort of violence,” he said.
He said he is very “counter-violence” and was offering first aid to people during the evening.
“There was definitely a small group doing things, but the vast majority of other people were just watching and having that normal comradery in the street that you have when something is happening in your street and you have no control over it.”
He said the community in Ely is tight-knit.
“When you start to see it in context, it’s emotions that have built up and bottled up and eventually, I think the police just brought too many people or were too visible.”
Large number of officers working to de-escalate disorder
At 8.21pm, South Wales Police tweeted: “There is now a large number of officers working to manage the collision, but also to de-escalate ongoing disorder at the scene.
“We urge anyone involved to leave the scene immediately and ask local residents to stay away while the matter is brought to a safe conclusion.”
At 1.10am police said they were continuing to monitor and respond to “disorder in Ely”, adding: “A number of vehicles have been set alight. Arrests are being made. A large police presence remains in the area.”
Disabled owner of burnt vehicle now “trapped without her car”
Jane Palmer, the owner of a burnt-out Ford Focus on Highmead Road, said she and her family watched from their window as rioters set fire to her car.
Ms Palmer said: “I’m disabled so now I’m trapped without my car.
“Why are they doing this? It’s just stilly now.”
The family attempted to stop the fire using water from their garden hose.
“The level of violence totally unacceptable”
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Travis said: “First and foremost our thoughts are with families of the two boys who have died following the collision in Ely and with those affected by the disorder which followed.
“These are scenes we do not expect to see in our communities, particularly a close-knit community such as Ely. We received a large number of calls from residents who were understandably frightened by the actions of this large group who were intent on causing crime and disorder.
“The level of violence towards emergency services and the damage to property and vehicles was totally unacceptable. Our focus now is to fully investigate the circumstances of the collision and the appalling scenes that followed.
“Arrests have already been made in connection with the disorder and more will follow. We shall be maintaining an enhanced police presence throughout the week and into the weekend.
“We would like to thank the public for their support and appeal to anyone with information or video footage to come forward and provide that to us.”
Anyone with information about the collision or the disorder is asked to contact South Wales Police quoting 2300166555.