A McDonald’s drive-thru customer was shot through the window of their car in front of queue of horrified onlookers.
Adam Caine, 21, was being handed his takeaway meal at the Bromborough fast food branch, Wirral, when he was targeted by David Pugh.
Brazen Pugh approached a black Ford Tourneo unmasked, before opening fire in front of a queue of other drive-thru diners at Croft Retail Park.
Pugh, 32, hit the front seat passenger in the leg, before the driver dropped his food and sped away from the McDonald’s collection window.
Police said the brazen shooter – making almost no attempt to conceal his identity – then ran off in the direction of an Asda store.
Mr Caine was taken to hospital for treatment following the shocking incident, at around 5.30pm, on Thursday, June 18 last year.
Police launched a CCTV appeal and that Saturday arrested Pugh, from Huyton, who was charged with attempted murder and possession of a firearm.
James Nolan, 30, from, Prescot, and James O’Neil, 33, of Leyfield Road, West Derby, were arrested a week later on Saturday, June 27 and also charged with attempted murder.
All three men denied attempted murder at a hearing in September, when Pugh admitted the lesser offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of a firearm.
A trial, estimated to last two weeks, was first listed for December and then re-listed to take place at Liverpool Crown Court this week.
However, at a hearing Nolan also admitted the charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, while O’Neill pleaded guilty to assisting an offender – a new count added to the indictment.
Simon Christie, prosecuting, said these pleas were acceptable to the Crown Prosecution Service and the remaining charges would be left to lie on the file.
Judge Denis Watson, QC, ordered a pre-sentence report for Pugh, which he said must consider the issue of dangerousness.
If Pugh is found to be a dangerous offender, as defined in law, he will be made subject to an extended sentence.
He will then have to serve at least two thirds of the prison sentence – not half – behind bars, before he is eligible for parole.
The judge said a pre-sentence report for Nolan was not required as the court had already been provided with a psychiatric report.
Judge Watson also ordered a pre-sentence report for O’Neill, but said dangerousness was not a consideration in his case.
He remanded all three men in custody until their sentencing on February 26.
Pictures taken just minutes after the shooting showed armed police surrounding the McDonald’s restaurant.
Some witnesses heard staff coming out of the restaurant to say the branch in Welton Road was closed.
Speaking at the time, traumatised customers told the ECHO they were surprised the shooter made no attempt to conceal his identity and was wearing “distinct clothing” during the attack.
One witness said: “I saw the shooting and couldn’t believe he didn’t try to hide his identity.
“He was wearing a bright pink t-shirt with green pants and a hoody but the hood wasn’t even up.
“He fired about three or four shots at the car and ran off.
“Loads of people will have seen his face so hopefully they catch him because more people could have been hurt, or even killed.”
One woman told said the shooter had ran down a path that connects New Chester Road to the retail park.
She said: “He ran through the cars and right up to the window of the black car which was parked and waiting.
“When he pulled the gun I heard three or four shots and then he ran off.
“The car flew out of the drive thru then and turned right towards the oncoming traffic.
“It was terrifying.”
A large cordon was immediately erected around the restaurant, with forensic and Matrix officers beginning their investigations later in the evening.
Scientific officers in white forensic suits could be seen taking photographs inside the cordon and laying down evidence markers close to the collection window where the shooting took place.
A second cordon was also placed at the entrance of Heather Dene, where the driver’s car was inspected for evidence after the victim was taken to hospital.