FEARS are growing that a terrible tragedy may come to Huddersfield's streets as the Examiner reveals the number of illegal guns in the area could top 100. The armoury among criminals now includes an AK47 assault rifle and possibly even grenades. After revealing last week that there were two Uzi sub-machineguns around, a second insider has talked exclusively with Crime Reporter ANDREW HIRST about fears that innocent people could be killed in the crossfire.
THERE have been a spate of shootings in recent months.
One in the Sheepridge area last October left three men shot - one was badly hurt - and another suffering from a stab wound.
That incident came just a week after another man was shot in the same area.
An insider - the second man in a week to give a frightening insight to the Examiner about the availability of guns - came forward to talk in detail about why the hoodlums are shooting one another.
Most shootings are simply fall-outs among thieves, sometimes after one has spent the proceeds from crime instead of sharing it out.
Criminals also rob one another - often at gunpoint - so more and more are getting guns to protect themselves.
It is an underbelly of crime in the town that goes largely unreported.
The insider said people who move in those circles are being beaten, shot or knifed.
But they will not tell the police and some prefer to seek their own brand of justice.
A few take the ultimate revenge by shooting their attacker.
The man, in his 20s, said: "Violence is fuelling violence. It's a vicious circle."
Now the insider fears innocent people may get caught in the crossfire - or even the children of the gun-owners could come across the weapons hidden at home.
He gave a frightening insight into how easy it is to get guns in Huddersfield.
"Give me 10 minutes and I can get someone to bring a shotgun to us," he said.
"I've seen an AK47 assault rifle in this town."
He said a shotgun would cost between £200 and £500.
He said a grenade was recently thrown into a car in a bid to kill one Huddersfield man - but failed to go off. And he revealed that most of the illegal weapons were being imported from the Continent.
"Many come from Germany or Belgium and are de-activated," he said. "They are then reactivated here. It's easy to do. There are step-by-step instructions on the internet."
The Examiner revealed last week that there were at least 20 guns circulating in Huddersfield, including two Uzi sub-machineguns.
But the man who has now spoken out said he believed there were far more.
"There could be more than 100," he said. "The problem has snowballed since the late 1990s."
And he said any hopes that the problem could be reversed are bleak.
"It's just going to get worse," he said. "Some guns are being used by teenage drug-dealers."
He said there was no incentive for them to turn away from crime unless they had the self-discipline to do so. "It's just too easy to make big money selling drugs.
He said some dealers were making several hundred pounds a day - so why would they swap that for a low-paid job labouring or working in a factory.
He added: "The problem is deeply-rooted in society. It may be too far gone to really tackle it now."
He said some of the high-level drug dealers rarely flaunted their wealth, to avoid arousing interest in themselves by either other criminals or the police.
But he said it was a cut-throat `business'.
The occupational hazards were getting attacked or arrested.
If someone is jailed another criminal will immediately move in and take over their drug customers.
The man said he had come to a crossroads in his life and turned his back on crime.
Now he urged others to do the same.
"Everyone reaches a crossroads in their lives," he said. "It could be after they have been imprisoned, but the hope is they will recognise when they have come to that turning point.
"It's up to them to make the correct decision and go the right way. The only way to change is to want to change. But for many the lure of easy money is just too tempting.
"At least I no longer fear the police raiding my home or being attacked by people wanting to rob me. I didn't trust anyone.
"I may be poorer, but life is more comfortable."