Ely: False rumours of police chase in teenager deaths sparked Cardiff riots, says police boss

  • Kate Lewis reports from the scene for Good Morning Britain

False rumours of a police chase that led to a fatal crash involving two teenagers in Cardiff sparked riots in the city overnight, the local police and crime commissioner has said.

Two teenage boys, named locally as Kyrees Sullivan, 16, and Harvey Evans, 15, were killed in the Ely area of Cardiff while riding an electric bike.The incident sparked a "large scale disorder" between riot police and a crowd of people for a number of hours.

At least two cars were set on fire as trouble flared for hours in the community, with clashes between officers and gangs of youths following the incident.

Police condemned the actions of what is believed to be around 100-150 people saying the level of violence towards emergency services and damage was totally unacceptable”.

Debris lay in the road on Tuesday morning with a clean up operation beginning at around 8am
  • What do we know?

Two teenage boys were involved in a crash shortly before 6pm on Monday evening which prompted officers to attend the scene on Snowden Road, South Wales Police confirmed.

It is believed that incident sparked the rioting which escalated into the early hours of the morning.

Police and Crime Commissioner of South Wales Police Alun Michael told BBC Wales on Tuesday morning the incident began as a road traffic collision which "sadly involved two teenagers and a loss of life".

He added: “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 social media nowadays, and that events can get out of hand.”

Cardiff Bus confirmed its vehicle was not involved in the incident. "We would like to emphasise that our vehicle was not involved, and our thoughts are with all those affected."

Part of the debris of last night is now being cleared up. Credit: PA Images

Mr Michael said "around a dozen" officers were injured in the violence following the collision.

Cars were set on fire as trouble flared, involving large crowds, with some covering their faces with balaclavas and masks.

Much of the violence was played out live across YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

A fire was burning and a helicopter could be heard hovering overhead as rioters threw missiles, including fireworks, and furniture at officers.

Onlookers watched as a car fire dominated the road ahead. Credit: PA

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, while a second vehicle was overturned and set alight.

A police car had its windscreen smashed as officers tried to contend with the disorder.

One resident told ITV News: "It's terrible, I've got my son who lives in Stanway Road with four kids and I've had to phone my daughter in Stanway Place where it all kicked off. I'm worried sick - I'm going to be up all night.

"I haven't seen anything like this for many years - not since last riots here about 20 years ago".

Riot police were sent to deal with the incident in the area and some police vehicles were damaged Credit: PA
  • What are police saying?

In its latest statement issued before 9am on Tuesday, South Wales Police said: "Shortly after 6pm yesterday we received a report of a serious road traffic collision on Snowden Road which resulted in the deaths of two teenage boys.

"Police responded to this collision which had already occurred when officers arrived, and they remained on scene to manage a large-scale disorder until the early hours of this morning.

Riot police lined the streets into the early hours of Tuesday morning Credit: PA

"Specially-trained public order officers were also deployed, including officers from neighbouring police forces.

"Several vehicles were set alight, property was damaged and police officers were injured during the incident."

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Travis said their thoughts are with the families of the two boys who have died and those affected by the disorder which followed.

Debris scattered across a road in Ely after Monday night's disturbance.

"These are scenes we do not expect to see in our communities, particularly a close-knit community such as Ely," he said.

"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.

“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.”

The aftermath on Tuesday morning of damaged cars and debris in the road

Police, including 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.

A number of arrests have been made but no official number has yet been given by the force.

Mr Michael adde: "It's a very warm community - people will be devastated and very unhappy about what has happened and questioning how it could happen here.

"Those are the questions that need to be looked at by everybody."

  • "We need calm"

The leader of Cardiff Council called for "calm" in the city so a full investigation can take place.

Cllr Huw Thomas said: "The best way we can achieve this is by letting the investigation begin as soon as possible. Any further trouble will only delay that investigation and cause more hurt to grieving families.

“I know the majority of people in Ely are deeply worried and concerned about the scenes last night. It’s really important that a full investigation can take place immediately. For that to happen we need calm. Any continuation of last night’s trouble will only hamper any investigation.

“It’s important we all come together, and work together, to find out exactly what happened. I urge everyone to do all they can to calm the situation.”