The family of a man whose death sparked a wave of violence in Swansea have condemned the ‘devastating scenes’ after a vigil for the teenager descended into a night of violence.
Shocking images from Mayhill showed flames billowing from torched cars and shards of glass littering the ground after a group of rioters tore through the residential street and attacked police attempting to control the chaos.
South Wales Police said last night’s mayhem, which began as a vigil for 19-year-old Ethan Powell, escalated into ‘violence, criminal damage and a wanton disregard for public safety’.
But neighbours today told how police left the scene after clashing with protestors, making the 200-strong group of rioters feel ‘unstoppable’ and ‘invincible’ while setting cars alight and throwing bricks through houses.
Mr Powell’s family has since condemned the ‘devastating’ scenes, while paying tribute to the ‘down-to-earth, well mannered boy’ who died suddenly on Wednesday after collapsing at home two days earlier.
His father Jonathan Russ, 49, said: ‘Ethan would have found it disgusting – it’s not something we want to be associated with. I don’t know how a peaceful vigil for my son turned into a riot with innocent people caught up in it.
‘I don’t know how a peaceful vigil for my son turned into a riot with innocent people caught up in it. I want it to stop right now. We have lost one life already, we don’t want someone else to die.’
Another relative added: ‘He would have been heartbroken to have seen what happened. He would have been trying to stop it – it is not something he would have wanted to see.
‘We can’t understand why there were people there laughing. To see that going on in Ethan’s name is devastating.
‘We are grieving as a family and we would like to be left alone to grieve in peace’.
His cousin Tegan Davies said: ‘The videos I’ve been sent are disgusting, I know Ethan would never have taken it this far. Bikes and balloons we said, not a f***ing riot!’
Ahead of the chaotic scenes last night, several rioters had vowed to put on ‘a show’ for Mr Powell and called on social media for others to gather and ‘light it up.’
One Facebook post said: ‘Lets all get tomoz and do a show for a good lad. Get your toys out Waunwen hill tomoz lets light it up.’
And other posts later praised the disorder – with one girl writing: ‘What a show! Love you bet your(sic) absolutely bouncing up there’.
Another on Snapchat read: ‘People need to stop complaining about the show it was a hell of a show he would have loved it. RIP Powell’s boy. Best show about just for you.’
Rioters set vehicles alight and attacked police during a night of violence in Swansea – with officers threatening ‘robust’ action to bring the situation under control
Shocking pictures taken at the scene showed flames billowing from a torched car as onlookers gathered to watch (pictured)
Photographs from today’s clean-up show people in Hi-Vis jackets brushing the burnt remains of debris from the road, with others cleaning broken glass away from their boarded up windows and doors
Locals and Council workers clean up in Waun-Wen Road in the Mayhill area of Swansea, Wales, following the chaos
Ethan Powell’s family has condemned the ‘devastating’ scenes, while paying tribute to the ‘down-to-earth, well mannered boy’ who died suddenly on Monday after watching the football with his grandfather
Grieving Dad Jonathan Russ, 49, and his partner Nicola Rogers, 40, who are pleading for the Swansea rioting to stop
Terrified neighbours today told how police left the scene after clashing with protestors, making the group of around 200 rioters feel ‘unstoppable’ as the chaos continued into the night.
Father-of-two Adam Romain said he returned from work as a delivery driver yesterday evening to see cars torched at random and being pushed down a steep hill outside his home.
As he made his way inside, he says rioters hurled rocks at him and set his car ablaze while his girlfriend and children, four and 16-months, were terrified inside.
Mr Romain said: ‘When I arrived home there was one police van and a patrol car at the bottom of the hill but that’s all the police that were there.’
He claims that when officers were confronted by the gang they fled the scene before later returning with back-up.
‘I am not an expert in rioting but I think that when the police left the scene it gave this mob a feeling of invincibility that made them feel unstoppable,’ the father added.
‘They started lobbing bricks at me, they started lobbing bricks at my house, with my babies in the house.
‘They were throwing these bricks through the front door straight at me – they had no fear whatsoever.’
Other neighbours living in the riot-hit street say they are baffled as to how the carnage spiralled out of control.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said the area had been plagued by anti-social behaviour with youths ‘running wild’.
Council contractors place heavy concrete barriers at the top of Waun Wen Road, Swansea, where large-scale disorder broke out on Thursday night
Terrified neighbours today told how police left the scene after clashing with protestors, making the group of around 200 rioters feel ‘unstoppable’ as the chaos continued into the night. Pictured: Concrete barriers are placed at Waun Wen street
Ahead of the riot last night, several rioters had vowed to put on ‘a show’ for Mr Powell and called on social media for others to gather and ‘light it up.’ Pictured: Work on the street today
Sylvie Bennett wrote on Facebook: ‘I am shocked at the disrespect shown to Ethan Powell tonight. I never knew the lad but read how many people respect him.’ Pictured: The aftermath
Locals rushed to Twitter to blast the group for gathering (the aftermath, pictured) during what was meant to be a ‘nice send off’ and balloon release for 19-year-old local Ethan Powell who died this month
The First Minister for Wales (above, Mark Drakeford) today insisted the disorder would ‘not be tolerated anywhere in Wales’ as he thanked police officers for quickly bringing the chaos under control
She said: ‘Things have been getting gradually worse and worse around here and as sad as last night was it wasn’t totally surprising.
‘We have been complaining for months over off-road bikes, rubbish in the street and kids generally running wild and causing a nuisance but nothing has been done.
‘They’re taking liberties because they think they can get away with it and let’s face it – they have been getting away with it for a long time now.
‘It was just like kids daring each other and egging each other on as to see who could be the most shocking.’
The First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford today insisted the disorder would ‘not be tolerated anywhere in Wales’ as he thanked police officers for quickly bringing the chaos under control.
‘The violent scenes in Swansea last night were completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated anywhere in Wales,’ Mr Drakeford said.
He thanked South Wales Police ‘for bringing the situation under control and continuing to monitor it closely this morning’.
A vigil for a recently-deceased local resident escalated into ‘violence, criminal damage and a wanton disregard for public safety’ in the Mayhill area, police said. Pictured: A group at the scene
And disturbing video footage shows the group rolling a car down a hill (pictured) – towards the burning vehicle – before it crashes into the wall
Volunteers and council workers clean-up debris left on the road in Mayhill, Swansea following the disorder last night
A woman clears up bricks and bottles left in the road after the ‘large scale disorder’ which erupted on Thursday night
The gathering was meant to be a ‘nice send off’ and balloon release for teenager Mr Powell, who died suddenly after collapsing at home on Monday
South Wales Police insisted they responded ‘immediately’ to the riot and have vowed to catch everyone responsible by trawling through hours of CCTV.
Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Gilmer said: ‘These are scenes we do not expect to see in our communities and our officers should not expect to have to confront situations like this when they go to work at the start of their shift.
‘I want to reassure the residents of Mayhill that we shall be maintaining an enhanced police presence throughout the weekend.
‘If those involved choose to return and further threaten public safety in the community of Mayhill they will be robustly dealt with.
‘Our focus now is to fully investigate this appalling incident. We will be using CCTV and social media footage to help us to identify and arrest those responsible.
‘The level of violence towards emergency services and the damage to buildings and vehicles was totally unacceptable.
‘I 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.’
Officers had asked people to stay clear of the Mayhill area of Swansea last night, while warning that those involved should expect to face ‘robust action’ for their actions.
The gathering was meant to be a ‘nice send off’ and balloon release for teenager Mr Powell, who died suddenly after collapsing at home on Monday and being found unconscious by his grandmother Sheryl.
He had earlier been watching Swansea City in the Championship play off with his grandfather Terry.
He went home and was found unconscious by his grandmother Sheryl who dialled 999.
Ethan was flown by air ambulance to Morriston Hospital, Swansea, where he died on Wednesday after his life support machine was turned off.
Doctors told his father that he suffered multiple organ failure after a massive cardiac arrest.
Mr Russ said: ‘He was a cheeky chap, always smiling with lots of friends who will miss him terribly.
‘He loved Swansea City and would have been buzzing on Monday after they won the first leg of the play-off match.
‘I used to say to him I couldn’t wait to go with him to matches when they are back in the Premiership. That will never happen now.’
Mr Russ and his partner Nicola Rogers, 40, didn’t go to Thursday night’s vigil in Mayhill, Swansea, which turned into a full scale riot with cars torched and houses pelted with bricks.
The couple were told organisers had planned a simple release of balloons in Ethan’s honour.
Mr Russ said: ‘We hoped to see a few go past from our window, that would have been good.
‘But instead we saw images of rioting on social media – we couldn’t believe what was going on. It was stupid behaviour and I am just gutted by it.
‘What if a child or an elderly person was in the street when the cars were rolling down at speed?’
Mr Russ appealed to organisers of any planned vigils for his son to cancel them immediately.
He said: ‘If anyone wants to release a balloon for Ethan they can do it from their own front doorsteps. We don’t want any gatherings in his name – it’s not what my boy would have wanted.’
Ash is seen scattered across the tarmac following the night of violence, during which cars were set alight
The gathering was meant to be a ‘nice send off’ and balloon release for teenager Mr Powell, who died suddenly after collapsing at home on Monday. Pictured: Today’s clean up
Swansea Council said it was ‘responding at pace’ to the disturbance, with officers assisting with ‘clean-up operations, helping with repairs and reassuring residents’
South Wales Police described the incident as ‘totally unacceptable’ and said officers would be working hard to identify those responsible for the night of violence
Jeremy Vaughan, the chief constable of the force, said he would ‘stop at nothing’ to find those responsible.
‘Saddened and furious at events in Swansea last night,’ he said. ‘So many families will have been tormented by those responsible, rest assured we @swpolice will stop at nothing to find them.
‘We will work hard with others to help and support local residents who deserve better than this.’
Swansea Council said it was ‘responding at pace’ to the disturbance, with officers assisting with ‘clean-up operations, helping with repairs and reassuring residents’.
Photographs from today’s clean-up show people in Hi-Vis jackets brushing the burnt remains of debris from the road, with others cleaning broken glass away from their boarded up windows and doors.
Elsewhere, residents collected the broken fragments of brick walls at the front of their houses which had been destroyed in the chaos on Thursday.
Volunteer Harri Helvan-Hardy went to help clean-up the area after watching the horrific scenes online.
She said: ‘I just thought anybody who saw the videos last night would agree that those people needed to be showed that there is more light than there is dark in the world, and be showed that Swansea is a community as a whole – we all care about each other.
‘It was nice to see that there were people there helping and showing they cared and the power of community.’
Smoke is seen billowing from a burnt-out car in Swansea as a vigil for a local boy who died this month got out of hand
The gang stood dangerously close to the car as flames billowed from it. Many can be seen with camera phones filming the chaos
Pictures taken after violence saw the burnt-out shell of a white car on the street in Swansea. Debris can be seen surrounding it
Councillor Rob Stewart, the leader of Swansea Council, also condemned the ‘absolutely disgusting behaviour by yobs’ in Mayhill.
‘This is completely unacceptable and inexcusable behaviour. Our thoughts are with the residents who have had to put up with this utterly despicable behaviour in our community,’ Mr Stewart said.
‘Our officers have linked in with the police who have been on the scene for some time.
‘We will support the police to identify, pursue and prosecute those that have organised and participated in this criminal activity.’
Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales and MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, described the scenes as ‘disgraceful’.
Tom Giffard, Welsh Conservative member of the Senedd for South Wales West, said the disorder was ‘disturbing’.
Locals took to social media to condemn the actions of those rioting in Swansea following the vigil for Mr Powell.
Two cars are seen with severe fire damage on the street. The tarmac has also been damaged with the heat of the blaze
Local Welsh Parliament member Tom Giffard called the scenes on Thursday (the fire pictured) ‘disturbing’
The trouble (a group gathered, pictured) is ‘ongoing’ and South Wales Police are urging residents to stay indoors while officers try to safely deal with the situation
Tegan Davies added: ‘The start was brilliant but this has gone way out of hand! I know Ethan loved an argument with the police but this has gone next level, kids and people living by are absolutely petrified!’ Pictured: The burnt-out cars
Flames were seen billowing from the car in Swansea after it was set alight in the street on Thursday
Sylvie Bennett wrote on Facebook: ‘I am shocked at the disrespect shown to Ethan Powell tonight.
‘I never knew the lad but read how many people respect him.
‘I bet he is looking down on you all with disgust. He wouldn’t want this and neither do his family want this.
‘So know that Swansea is not proud of you as you are all a disgrace. You have not done him proud you have dishonoured him. You’re the scum of the earth.’
Tegan Davies added: ‘The start was brilliant but this has gone way out of hand!
‘I know Ethan loved an argument with the police but this has gone next level, kids and people living by are absolutely petrified!
‘The videos I’ve been sent are disgusting, I know Ethan would never have taken it this far.
‘Bikes and balloons we said, not a f***ing riot!’