A homeless man who was shot while sheltering under a railway arch in Bermondsey last month has been left “completely, totally paranoid” by the unprovoked attack, he exclusively revealed to the News.
The 52-year-old, who wishes to remain anonymous, suffered gunshot wounds to the leg after a possible attempted car-jacking in Rail Sidings Road during the early hours July 24.
The dad, who has been homeless for fifteen months, said: “I was sitting in my car with the windows up because it was a warm day. Two guys came out of nowhere with their faces covered, just shouting. They hit me on the head with a gun before shooting me through the open window.
“It was just a little single barrel thing and they must’ve loaded it wrong or something though, because the first shot just bruised me. When he started reloading I was scrambling for my car keys but they shot me again and this time the bullet near enough came through the other side of my leg. I could feel burning and the blood.”
The two men fled into the night with his car keys and the alleged victim, who has lived in Bermondsey all his life, rang two friends. One arrived with a spare key to move the car to a safe place and the other drove him to St Thomas’, where police were called. He was operated on and released from hospital last week.
But, while his physical injuries are healing, the shooting has had a longer-lasting impact on his state of mind.
He said: “Physically I’m fine, but mentally I’m disturbed by what happened. I am completely, totally paranoid every night now. When I hear a noise I’m just terrified, peeking out the windows into the dark.
“I used to like sleeping under the arches because I felt safe there but I haven’t been back since. I’d never been nervous on the street before but I’m scared now.”
He said that the attack was completely unprovoked, and that he was moved to contact the News after reading rumours online that the shooting was due to a drug deal or gang violence.
He said: “I’m not in a gang, I don’t deal drugs – I’ve never even been in a fight. I got upset when I read on Facebook about what people thought had happened. It was just two people I’d never met, that’s what makes it worse. I think maybe it was a case of mistaken identity or they were trying to steal my car.”
He became homeless after splitting from his partner of seven years around fifteen months ago. He has spent the time since on the street or reluctantly staying with family or friends.
He said: “I knew my partner was unhappy and I thought it was because of me. We were both unhappy to be honest. We made the mutual decision to break up because it felt like the right thing to do. It was her house so I had nowhere to live.
“My friends always offer me a permanent place to stay but I just hate it. I hate being a burden, being in the way. I hate having to ask if I can use their shower or have something from the fridge.”
He has been on the council housing waiting list for over a year but has not yet been offered a property. A spokesperson for the council, which was contacted as the paper went to press, promised to look into the situation for a full report in the News next week.
Police are still appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the incident to come forward. Please call 101 with any information.