Youth Worker Gunned Down On London Street

A young man who rose from an inner-city background to become a youth worker and a promising horse rider has been shot dead, the 17th teenager to be murdered in the capital this year.

Police are trying to establish why the victim, named locally as Nathan Foster, was targeted by a masked gunman riding a motorbike who opened fire on a group of young people in Brixton, south London, on Friday night.

Officers from Operation Trident, which deals with gun crime in London’s black community, believe the shooting may have been linked to a dispute over an allegedly stolen chain which Nathan was trying to resolve.

Initial reports suggested Nathan may have been trying to broker a deal for the return of the jewellery when one side escalated the dispute into violence.

Nathan’s mother, Vanetta Bell, said yesterday: “I am overwhelmed with grief. I cannot understand how this has happened.

“I’m still trying to come to terms with it. I can’t believe it and it’s too early for me to say anything else.”

The 18-year old, also known as Nay Nay or Bowser, was a gifted enough rider to have become a professional in the sport, his former riding teacher said.

Ros Spearing, who runs the Ebony Horse Club, specialising in teaching youngsters from deprived areas to ride, said Nathan was the best youngster to have gone through the school.

From the age of eight, Nathan – described as an “outstanding young man” – was riding horses, though he had to stop in his mid-teens because the club did not have enough horses to meet the demand, she said.

He returned to the club as a youth worker, helping younger riders, and was a paid employee until his death.

Miss Spearing said: “He was an outstanding young man.

“He was at his happiest when he was on a horse and especially on trips we used to take to the Brecon Beacons national park. He was in his element.

“He was with us as a rider from the age of eight and out of about 200 kids that were learning to ride from central Brixton no one has ever come anywhere near his standard of riding.

“He made a decision that he was more interested in working with young people but given the right training and facilities he could have gone on to equestrian college because he was that good at riding.

Tributes to Nathan were laid at the scene of the murder, in Marcus Garvey Way, Brixton, and also appeared on the website,, where another youth worker, writing as Julia, said he was “shot in a moment of rage over something he had nothing to do with”.

“Despite his quiet and polite demeanour we knew that he was a leader among his peers – a strong person whose calming influence we came to rely on.

Nathan was just at the start of a career putting his energy into his community,” she wrote. “The sorrow that engulfed the Moorlands [the estate in Brixton where he lived] was so tangible you could almost touch it. His family and friends engulfed in grief.”

Nathan is the 17th teenager to be murdered in London this year.

The suspect, who is believed to be around 18 and was on a blue motorcycle or scooter and wearing a helmet, spoke to members of the group before producing a gun.