A Swindon man has recounted how he required hospital treatment after being shot at three times from a passing car with a paintball gun, once in the face, as he cycled home from work in the early hours of Monday morning.
Barman Tony Blackford, aged 25, told This is Wiltshire that he had been left temporarily blinded by the attack, which also saw him hit twice in the ribs, and that he managed to flag down a passing motorist who took him to the Great Western Hospital to have his injuries treated.
Mr Blackford, described as suffering from moderate learning difficulties, said: “I finished work and was half way home when I heard ‘bang, bang, bang.’ The car came from behind me and I could not see anything.”
His grandmother Jeanette Blackford, aged 71, added that he was lucky not to have been blinded in the attack, with one of the projectiles just missing his right eye.
“We thought his nose was broken,” she revealed. “He had oil from green paint in his eyes and could’ve been blinded.
“He normally wears glasses for reading so it was lucky he wasn’t wearing them. He’s very quiet at the moment.
“He’s never caused any trouble and has done remarkably well to hold down a job since leaving school.
“He went and got the job at the Dockle Farmhouse by himself and he works so hard. Now this happens and he is terrified of going out.
“He could not see the car or anything – he was covered in paint and blood.
“You can’t print what I think of the people that did this – if only I could get hold of them. I hope the police throw the book at them.”
This is Wiltshire says that it is believed that the incident may be related to similar attacks that have take place in the town in which BB guns have been used.
On the same night that Mr Blackford was attacked, a 19-year-old was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in connection with one of those other incidents, which had taken place in Middleleaze.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Police commented: “We arrested a 19-year-old male for an incident in Alba Close involving a BB gun. The car involved was a Renault Clio.
“We had three reports but the man has been arrested only in relation to one. We are keeping an open mind as the other reports are very similar.”
Anyone who has information about the attacks is asked to call Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.