Rioters who threw bricks at houses and torched cars in Swansea will be met with “robust action”, police have said.
Families spoke of being trapped in houses, with police “pelted with rocks” as they tried to break up the violence.
Chief Constable of South Wales Jeremy Vaughan said he would “stop at nothing to find” those responsible.
Officers said they were using CCTV and social media footage to identify those responsible and urged people to send in any photos or videos.
Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Gilmer said: “The level of violence towards emergency services and the damage to buildings and vehicles was totally unacceptable.”
She said police would remain in the area throughout the weekend and if anyone involved returned they would be “robustly dealt with”.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the scenes were “completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated anywhere in Wales”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the scenes were “disgraceful” and thanked “brave officers for bringing it under control”.”Police have my backing to take robust action against those involved,” she said.
Saddened and furious at events in Swansea last night.
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.
— CC Jeremy Vaughan (@CCJeremyVaughan) May 21, 2021
The force’s response has been criticised by some residents who said they were faced by violent “yobs” outside their homes with no-one coming to their aid.
But South Wales Police said its response was “immediate and officers trained to deal with public order incidents were deployed to the scene”.
Officers believe the disorder on Waun-wen Road, which saw groups roll a car down the middle of the street into a burning car, started as a vigil for 19-year-old Ethan Powell who collapsed and died suddenly on Wednesday.
‘No fear whatsoever’
image captionAdam Romain says he stood behind his front door hoping no one would try and get into his house where his children were “terrified”
Adam Romain said he feared a “mob” would enter his home and attack his family after he tried to stop them setting fire to his car.
He told BBC Radio Wales he was out making deliveries when he got a panicked phone call from his girlfriend and could hear his children screaming in the background.
“I went back as quickly as I could, I drove up to my house, literally into a riot,” he said.
He said he had to ride his motorbike through the middle of a “about 100 lads” throwing bricks.
image captionMr Romain stood at the window, smashed in the riot, where his baby’s cot is placed
Mr Romain said he tried to stop a car being set on fire but was set upon.
“The bricks were starting to be lobbed at me and my house… my children were in the house, my girlfriend was in the back screaming, scared for their lives.
“I was standing at the front, hoping, praying, that they wouldn’t come inside the house.
“They were coming to the front door, lobbing these bricks, straight through the glass door, straight at me – they had no fear whatsoever,” he said.
Rioters ‘felt invincible’
Mr Romain said he rang police three times, but was told “we already know about the incident” and no-one came to help.
He filmed the rioters on a helmet camera, capturing the faces of many of the culprits, and said he would share the footage with the force.
Mr Romain said only last month a van was rolled down the hill and smashed into his neighbours’ van and his car.
image captionIn the aftermath people took to the streets to help with the clean up, and photographers captured the burnt out cars
Another family said their 90-year-old mother had her windows smashed and had to leave her home – but did not want to be identified as they did not “want to be targeted”.
Questions are being asked about the police’s response to the violence, after images on social media apparently show a gang ambushing a police van, and officers in riot gear forcing them out of the area.
image captionVolunteers helped with the clean-up on Friday morning, sweeping up burnt plastic and broken glass
At the scene
BBC reporter David Grundy
It’s the morning after the night before.
All that’s left of the cars are their charred remains with melted plastic, broken glass, and molten metal on Waun-Wen Road.
The clean-up operation got under way at just after 07:00 with council workers arriving to clean up the mess.
A glazier firm’s just arrived to look at homes which have several smashed windows.
There’s a lot of anger about what happened.
A lot of people are upset that this was meant to be a vigil for a young local lad who died recently.
People are angry that children were terrified after seeing this happen. They are upset it was just too dangerous for the police and fire service to attend or stay at the scene because of the crowds here.
‘Unlawful mob rioting’
Swansea council leader Rob Stewart said he was “utterly disgusted” by the “unacceptable behaviour in the streets of Mayhill”.
“It’s not reflective of Swansea… what we saw last night was a group of yobs, who created a riot and made residents fearful in their homes,” he said.
However, he said the community had been very supportive of each other, with many people trying to help each other during the violence, and with the clean-up afterwards.
image captionThe community was thanked for helping those in need during the violence
He said he was waiting for a briefing from the police, who he believed had been faced with violence when trying to break-up the incident, but “nobody in Swansea should be in fear… the yobs that are doing this should be brought to justice”.
Mr Stewart said the council had been acting to tackle anti-social behaviour, but this was “very different from the illegal, unlawful and violent actions of a mob rioting”.
“This cannot be allowed to happen again,” he said.
Rioters ‘smashed through my windows and door’
- 5 hours ago
Mayhill rioters attacked police van
- 1 hour ago
Shocking footage as ‘yobs’ set cars on fire
- 14 hours ago