A girl has been stabbed to death in south London as she and her friends made their way to school.
Witnesses reported the 15-year-old was stabbed in the neck with a “foot-long” knife after she refused flowers from a boy, causing chaos during the morning rush hour, with teenagers and commuters “screaming” in panic.
A bus driver and a passer-by had initially battled to save her life, while two other schoolgirls, believed to be the victim’s friends, tried to get through the police cordon.
Despite the best efforts of the London Ambulance Service and Air Ambulance, she was pronounced dead at the scene at 9.21am.
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Following information provided to the police, a 17-year-old boy was arrested in New Addington just over an hour later and remains in custody.
Old Palace of John Whitgift School, a private all-girls school in Croydon, confirmed that the victim had been a “much-loved and valued friend and pupil” and sent their condolences to her family.
Her family were reportedly told the news by their daughter’s friends and were “devastated” by the news.
One witness described how he and others had chased a boy, who was carrying a knife which was “black, thin and about a foot long”.
Security worker Victor Asare said: “It looked like the girl didn’t want the boy to come closer.”
He then described a boy stabbing the girl in the neck with a black knife.
“A lot of people came, everyone came off the bus. [The boy] ran away. Everybody was crying and screaming. The girl was on the floor.
“We tried to catch him and a lot of people tried to save the girl. I was so shocked, I was shaken. It’s somebody’s daughter.”
A TfL bus was cordoned off by emergency services, while resuscitation efforts continued for 40 minutes.
A mother-of-two, who wanted to be named only as Bridget, said: “I was on the bus before and came off and walked back down, I saw them resuscitating her. The driver was holding her, and a lady.”
A statement from Old Palace of John Whitgift School said: “We are deeply shocked by the senseless and tragic death of our much-loved and valued friend and pupil.
“It will take some time for the Old Palace community to come to terms with this terrible news, and we will offer support to our pupils as we try to do so.
“Above all, we send our love and deepest sympathies to the girl’s family at this unimaginably distressing time.”
A white tent was erected on the pavement while a number of police cars surrounded the Route 60 bus, which had been heading towards Streatham Station.
Around three police vehicles and a dozen officers remained, while a bunch of flowers had been placed next to the forensic tent.
James Watkins, from Mainz World which runs prevention and intervention projects for children and young people, said he met with the family at the scene between 9am and 10am and that they were “devastated”.
He added: “I came down to support the family and some of the young people.
“We were with the family this morning. They were devastated and I would say more importantly in shock, I don’t think it feels real for them.”
Speaking to the Independent, Katia Brito, 22, said: “I arrived at the scene at 9.02am and the two buses had stopped. The tent was up and emergency services were trying to keep her alive. Kids were running under the underpass.”
Describing it as a “hotspot area”, community activist Daniyel Thomas said: “This is a travesty. We need to galvanise the community.
“We need local patrols and fathers of the community to watch the streets, this is a hotspot area.”
Chief Superintendent Brittain, in charge of local policing, said: “This is every parent’s worst nightmare, and I know the officers who responded this morning, along with our emergency service colleagues, are devastated at the victim’s death.
“This is an emotion I share and I know people across Croydon will be feeling the same.
“The victim’s family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at what must be an incredibly difficult time.”
In response to the news, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I am absolutely heartbroken by the death of a 15-year-old girl in Croydon this morning.
“My thoughts and prayers are with this young girl’s family and friends, and the whole community, at this unimaginably awful time.
“An arrest has been made in connection with this incident and I am in close contact with the Met Commissioner.”
The Mayor of Croydon, Jason Perry, wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter): “I am devastated to hear that the teenage girl who was stabbed in the town centre this morning has tragically died. The Council are in touch with the police and will fully support their investigations. Our whole community’s thoughts are with the victim’s family and friends.”
The schoolgirl is the 16th teenager to be murdered in the capital this year, 13 of whom were stabbed.
Anyone who witnessed the attack or has information that can help officers is asked to call police via 101 quoting reference CAD 1601/27Sep. To remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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