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|Student 'Shot In Ritual'|
By Justin Davenport, Evening standard Crime Correspondent
London, May 13, 2004 (This is London) – A student shot dead in the street may have been the innocent victim of a gangland initiation killing, it is revealed today.
Detectives are investigating the theory that Galal Hamza, 25, was murdered by a gang member trying to "prove himself ".
They can find no other motive why a gunman shot him in the forehead as he walked down a London street.
He may have been targeted only because he exchanged glances with three men - including his killer - loitering outside a Tube station.
They followed the computer student as he walked with a friend to a late-night coffee shop on Fulham Road.
Suddenly, without a word, one man pulled out a handgun and shot Mr Hamza from about 10 feet away.
The gunman then turned on Mr Hamza's friend and fired at him, hitting him in the groin as he fled.
Detectives have checked the backgrounds of both victims to find a motive for the murder, but neither are connected to crime. Both are described as likeable young men who did not take drugs or associate with gangs.
Police have virtually ruled out a robbery as Mr Hamza's phone was not stolen, or a contract killing involving a mistaken identity.
Today officers announced a £15,000 reward and issued an urgent plea for information to help catch the killers.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Watts of Scotland Yard's serious crime directorate said: "We are keeping an open mind about the motive. Was this some kind of gang-related initiation killing? Is this someone who wants to prove how dangerous he is and is willing to show in front of two others that he can kill a man in cold blood?"
Detectives, who believe the murder was an isolated incident, are examining gang activity in west London. Gang-related initiation murders have occurred in the US but none have been proved to take place in Britain.
Mr Watts said: "Whatever the motive, we consider these people to be extremely dangerous. They are willing to kill without provocation and they present a real threat to the safety of Londoners. We urge anyone who can identify them or knows the reason for this murder to contact us."
Mr Hamza and his friend, who has not been named and who is now under police protection, were attacked in Redcliffe Gardens, West Brompton, at 2.25am on Sunday 18 April after leaving the My Place club in Earl's Court Road.
A witness told police he saw the two friends walk past three men standing outside Earl's Court Tube station. Mr Hamza, a student at South Bank University, and the men exchanged "glares".
The two friends set off towards a coffee shop near the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital but became aware they were being followed.
In Redcliffe Gardens they turned round and confronted the men but before anything was said, one of the three pointed a gun at Mr Hamza and fired, killing him instantly. The man then tried to kill the friend, firing as he chased him down the road.
Witnesses say they saw the three men walk calmly away. Mr Watts said: "Friends and colleagues of Galal all say he was respectable and not a troublemaker.
"He did not use drugs and was not a womanizer. Apart from the exchange of glances there was no connection between the three men and the victim."
Mr. Hamza, from Somalia, claimed asylum after his mother sent him to Britain for his own safety in 1999. His father and two brothers had been killed in the country's civil war. He had been granted indefinite leave to remain.
Police are examining hundreds of hours of CCTV footage. The only description of the suspects is two were black and the third, the gunman, was light-skinned or white.
Anyone with information should call the murder incident room on 020 7321 9251 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.