Machetes and knives: Bloody gang war breaks out at UK cinema
Birmingham - One hooded boy makes a gun gesture with his fingers. Another stands nonchalantly with a machete.
This shocking image was reportedly taken moments before violence erupted at a cinema thronging with families there to see Frozen 2.
Up to 100 youths brawled as rival gangs clashed at the Vue in Birmingham’s Star City entertainment complex on Saturday evening.
Police dog units were sent to the scene of chaos in the Nechells suburb, which saw seven officers suffer facial injuries.
Five teenagers were arrested – including a girl of 13 – with West Midlands Police promising that further arrests were imminent. The violence prompted the 89-venue cinema chain and its competitor Showcase to pull the gangland crime drama Blue Story from all their multiplexes. Police, some armed with Tasers, had to break up the fighting after a group reportedly arrived with machetes and knives. It is thought the crowd swelled as those already at the venue summoned friends to the scene by text.
Blue Story – which holds a 15 certificate – is co-produced by BBC Films and Paramount Pictures UK. The 91-minute movie is about a tragic friendship set amidst a London postcode gang war.
The British Board of Film Classification’s ratings information guide said Blue Story contained ‘very strong language, strong violence, threat, sex, drug misuse.’
One cinemagoer said young children dressed as their favourite Frozen characters were queuing in the foyer on Saturday when a group of girls "jumped on another and loads of these kids just started fighting".
Hanan Algahuri, 33, had taken her three children under 12 to see the Disney sequel at Star City. She described how the family, from Selly Oak, were forced to run back to their car for safety.
She said staff asked patrons to evacuate halfway through the film, adding: "My children heard someone has been stabbed which scared them. My little one, Madeline, was crying her eyes out." Management at the Vue cinema closed the Birmingham multiplex for the evening following the violence.
Although it could not be confirmed exactly where the image of the machete came from, police believe it was taken during Saturday’s disorder at Star City.
Officers, who took two hours to clear the complex with the aid of a dispersal order, later confirmed two machetes and a knife had been seized in the vicinity of the Star City complex.
Discussing the picture of the youths – including the gang member holding the 12-inch machete – Steve Graham, commander of Birmingham West neighbourhood policing unit, said: "We believe it [the machete] was captured at the scene and what’s really important from that group is that those pictures are really really clear." He said violent incidents like that at the cinema were rare, but added: "As for some officers who were there [on Saturday], it may be the worst thing they have ever seen."
A 13-year-old girl, a girl and a boy, both aged 14, and a 19-year-old man were held on suspicion of assaulting police. A 14-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police.Daily Mail