A DRIVE-by pumpkin and firework attack left two brothers diving for cover after they thought they were being gunned down by a gang.
Luckily for Curtis Blake, 23, and Dalton Reid, 20, it was not gunshots being rained down on them and a friend near The Foresters Arms on Anns Hill Road at 1.45am on Saturday.
But the seasonal attack of pumpkin and fireworks dished out by a convoy of four cars could still have left permanent damage on the trio.
Curtis was worst off after the ambush, needing hospital treatment having suffered a perforated eardrum after a firework exploded on him. Dalton, meanwhile, was nearly knocked to the ground after being pelted with the pumpkin.
The attack is understood to be part of a spate of similar crimes in the area during the last few weeks. One of those involved an assault on an old lady who needed a skin graft after a firework was shot in her face when walking along the street.
The nighttime bombardment has raised concerns over the decision by Hampshire County Council to turn off street lights at 1am to save money – with it said to be making crime easier.
Dalton said: ‘We were passing the pub when four cars slowly drove past and threw pumpkins out of the window before firing fireworks.
‘We were trying to cover our faces. We thought they were firing guns at us at first. It was scary not knowing what was going on.
‘Me brother hit the ground and had a firework explode by his ear, leaving him with a perforated eardrum while I had pumpkin explode on me.’
He added: ‘An old woman was hit in the face by a firework recently from people driving past in cars. Having the street lights off makes it easier for them to get away with it – we couldn’t see their faces.’
Curtis and Dalton’s mum Torrie Reid, 46, added: ‘It was very frightening for them – they thought they were being shot at.
‘Curtis has been told he has to wait eight weeks to see how his ear heals but may need surgery.
‘This wouldn’t have happened if the street lights were on. There has been a rise in crime since they turned them off. We want the lights put back on.’
A silver BMW is thought to have been one of the cars involved in the attack.
A police spokesman said: ‘We were called to reports of an incident in which fireworks had been set off from vehicles driving on Anns Hill Road and thrown at members of the public. A pumpkin was also thrown and struck a member of the public.’
However, police said other recent firework attacks in Brockhurst Road, Gosport; Newgate Lane, Fareham; and Canal Walk in Portsmouth all took place where street lights were on so is not ‘fair to say there is any correlation between these incidents and street lights being turned off’.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101, quoting 44190355459.