A THREE-year-old boy has been seriously injured in a suspected acid attack, West Mercia Police have said.
Cops released images of three men after the toddler was injured in a suspected acid attack in Home Bargains in Worcester yesterday afternoon.
Police said the boy was taken to hospital where he is being treated for serious burns to his arm and face.
Superintendent Mark Travis said: “The incident will shock the community. We’re carrying out an enquiries to identify those responsible.”
The incident occurred at around 2.15pm in Home Bargains on Shrub Hill Retail Park, Tallow Hill, Worcester.
Chief Superintendent Mark Travis added: “At this time we are treating this as a deliberate attack on a three-year-old boy.”
Witnesses to the horror scene described seeing a woman crying and being comforted by police officers.
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He continued: “The incident will rightly shock the local community and I would like to reassure local people that we are carrying out a thorough investigation to identify those responsible.
“At this time, the motive for the attack is unclear. Officers are working hard to establish exactly what happened and what the substance involved was.
“The three men in the photo may have information vital to our investigation. I am sure someone will recognise them and I would urge anyone with information to contact us as a matter of urgency.”
A 39-year-old man from Wolverhampton has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm and remains in police custody.
Police officers were seen scouring bins and looking under cars today as they searched for the container which was used in the acid attack.
Shocked shoppers have described seeing police cars and ambulances dashing to the shop where the three-year-old boy was attacked.
Rachel Bryant, 22, said: “I’d been shopping with my mum and were heading to Home Bargains when there were loads of police and ambulances. I saw a woman crying and being comforted by police. I didn’t know what it was all about. When I heard about the little boy being attacked with acid I couldn’t believe it. I assume the woman I saw could have been his mum or relative.
“It’s horrendous to think something like this could happen to a little boy in the middle of a shop on a Saturday afternoon.”
Another shopper, who did not want to be named, said: “I heard from someone who works at the shop that the man [who attacked the boy] was a skinny white guy. He was about 5ft 11ins and he ran out the shop. I think he was caught pretty quick but I don’t know for sure.”
Home Bargains shopper Barry Keville, 64, said: “It’s diabolical. You hear about it in other towns and cities, we think that’s not close to home but when it’s this close to home it’s quite frightening as you use the shop.”
Dean Carey, 22, assistant manager at the store, said: “Events happened yesterday, police knew what happened and we are working with them. Everything is fine, everything is nice and safe for everyone, the staff are all fine. The incident happened but now we have moved on.”
The store’s area manager, who did not want to be named, added: “We put the health and safety of our staff and customers at the forefront before anything else ”
Chief Superintendent Mark Travis urged social media user to share the appeal “far and wide” in a bid to catch the three wanted men captured on CCTV.
He tweeted: “Really nasty crime this.. these men are very distinctive… they clearly from behaviour know each other well…. if you know them please let us know. Please. Share far and wide. RTs not likes please.”
Worcester MP Robin Walker said: “The shock will be universal. Anyone conducting such an attack on a small child is just appalling.
“It’s an issue which rightly there has been a lot of concern in Parliament and a move to toughen sentences for any kind of acid attack.
“But particularly the nature of this being a small child is very concerning indeed. At this stage the key thing is for the police to act quickly and see if they can track down the perpetrator and understand what’s behind it, because it is an unthinkable thing to happen.”
Worcester City Council leader Marc Bayliss said the attack was “absolutely pure evil” and added: “Worcester is not that sort of place. We are a quintessential small English city.
“I have never heard of an acid attack in Worcester so this is absolutely not something we have any experience of.
“We are a very safe city, we are one of the safest places in England according to statistics.
“If anybody knows anything about this I would urge them to come forward – think if this was a member of your family, an innocent child, a three-year-old probably scarred or damaged for life by this.”
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He added: “We need to bring the perpetrators to justice, and quickly.”
Anyone with information that could help police with their enquiries should call 999 quoting incident 442s of 21 July 2018.
Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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