A 15-year-old boy is in a critical condition in hospital after he was shot in the head riding pillion on a motorbike in Sunderland.

A man aged 39 and a youth aged 16 have been arrested in connection with the incident on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.

It is not yet clear if the weapon used was a gun or an air rifle but police said it appeared that the incident which took place on Wednesday evening (5 October) was an isolated one. In March, 19 people were arrested after a shooting in the same area.

Northumbria Police sought to reassure the local community by sending extra officers to patrol the area around Hewitt Avenue, Ryhope which was cordoned off and police also conducted door-to-door inquiries.

The firearm has not yet been found.

Northumbria Police Southern Area Commander, Chief Superintendent Ged Noble, said: "The 15-year-old boy remains in hospital in a critical condition and our thoughts are with his family at this time.

"We understand they and the local community will be concerned about this incident and will have questions around the circumstances, and I would like to reassure them we have a team of detectives working to establish what happened."

Local residents said a group of teenagers regularly rode motorbikes in the area but were generally well-behaved. Brogan Connify, 21, told the BBC: "They are quite considerate for being such young kids. There have been times I have asked them to keep the noise down and they have apologised and moved. There's nothing to cause this, no bullying. With it being such a small community, they have all grown up together, it doesn't matter the age. This is a massive shock."

Anyone with information about the incident is being asked to call the Northumbria Police incident room on 101 quoting reference 1063 061016. Alternatively call the charity Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.