A LARGE brawl which broke out during a church service may have been part of the increasingly bloody traveller feud sweeping St Helens, it is feared.
Up to 40 men were involved when a fight erupted between rival gangs during evening Mass at Holy Cross Church in Corporation Street.
Witnesses say several elderly worshippers fled the service.
Shockingly, candlesticks were even used as weapons by the warring parties.
Police were called to the Corporation Street church at around 6.45pm last Saturday (February 23) but by the time they arrived the offenders had escaped.
One man was still at the scene suffering facial cuts but he refused medical treatment.
Fears are now growing that the mayhem is the latest chapter in a simmering feud between rival traveller families which was re-ignited last month when shots were fired at a house in Parr. However, police are refusing to officially link the church brawl to recent troubles.
A force spokeswoman said around 40 men were involved but said only two traded blows.
She added: “This must have been very upsetting for the other people inside the church at the time. Obviously this type of behaviour inside a church is totally unacceptable and we are continuing to work to trace those responsible.”
No one from Holy Cross Church was available to comment.
A statement from the Archdiocese of Liverpool confirmed: “Towards the end of the 6.45pm mass at Holy Cross Church on Saturday, Feb 23 an incident took place which led to the involvement of the police.
“As those involved were not parishioners or regular members of the congregation, we are unable to comment further.”
The police spokeswoman added: “CCTV is being examined and enquiries are on-going in the area. The neighbourhood team will continue to visit the church and school to offer reassurance.
“I would urge anyone who has had any information about this incident to contact officers via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
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