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A teenage boy knifed a 15-year-old girl to death ‘with a machete after she refused to go out with him and rejected his offer of flowers‘ while she was getting a bus to her £19,350-a-year private school in south London today.
Tonight the girl, who was a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, has been named locally as Eliyanna. She was attacked at 8.30am – less than a mile away from the school gates.
Locals say they saw a group of schoolchildren getting off the No 60 bus outside the Whitgift Centre, where a row between the girl, wearing a green school blazer, and the boy – in a black blazer – ‘spilled out’ on to a street busy with pedestrians.
Chevanice Thomas, whose friend claims to have witnessed the stabbing, said the girl had rejected flowers from the boy moments before he attacked her with a knife that resembled ‘a sword’. Another witness claimed she heard the girl saying she ‘didn’t want to go out with him any more’.
The bus driver and a passenger tried desperately to save the girl’s life but she died at the scene at 9.21am. Community worker James Watkins said the girl’s ‘devastated’ family were summoned to the scene this morning but were ‘unable to make it’ in time to say goodbye to their daughter.
Officers arrested a 17-year-old boy in nearby New Addington at 9.45am.
Today, forensics officers were seen removing a handwritten love note from the scene. Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain said police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
Old Palace of John Whitgift School is a selective independent day school for girls aged three to 18. It is consistently ranked as one the best in London and is a sister school to Whitgift School for Boys. It is not yet clear which school the boy attended.
A forensic officer picks up the bunch of flowers from the scene of the fatal stabbing on Wellesley Road
Witnesses said the boy had tried to give the girl flowers but she replied that she ‘didn’t want to go out with him anymore’
Today, forensics officers were seen removing a handwritten love note from the scene
Forensic officers walk past the scene, which features several privacy screens
One witness to the attack claimed she saw a boy and a girl arguing, with the girl saying she ‘didn’t want to go out with him any more’.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, continued: ‘There were about seven or eight children who got off a bus which stopped outside the Whitgift Centre.
‘There was a young girl and young boy arguing. He had flowers with him and they were arguing about the girl breaking up with him yesterday.’
Speaking to journalists at the scene, Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain said officers were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
‘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,’ he said.
‘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.
‘We carried out urgent inquiries to find the suspect and within 75 minutes of the incident happening a 17-year-old boy was arrested in New Addington. He remains in custody and will be questioned by detectives.
‘We remain in the early stages of our investigation, however based on what we know so far we believe that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this offence.
‘From our initial inquiries, we believe the suspect may have known the victim. However, we’re not in a position to release the victim’s identity at this time.’
Speaking to journalists this afternoon, Chief Superintendent Brittain said officers arrived within two minutes of being called and gave the suspect’s age as 17
Privacy screens have been set up around the scene of the stabbing in Croydon, south London
The number 60 bus remains behind the police cordon, where forensics officers are carrying out inquiries
Today, the Met said officers were on the scene of the stabbing within two minutes
A spokesman for the 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.
Chevanice Thomas, 28, who works on the nearby Landsdown Building site, said her friend saw a group of schoolchildren and adults running from the scene immediately after the stabbing at around 8.30am this morning.
‘My friend said there was people with their children running everywhere,’ she said. ‘The only person who stayed was the bus driver. A lot of people got out their vehicles and started running.
‘My friend said they were off the bus, talking, the boy and the girl. The boy gave her flowers, but she didn’t want anything to do with him. Then he got violent and stabbed her. My friend said the knife was like a sword.’
This afternoon, a white tent could be seen within a police cordon next to the double-decker bus.
The location of the stabbing is shown in the map above. The 60 route bus was heading towards Streatham station
A forensic investigator onboard the bus where the argument is believed to have started
A mother-of-two, who asked 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. The emergency services were already here when I walked back.’
She said two other schoolgirls, believed to be the victim’s friends, were trying to get back through the police cordon but were held back.
Victor Asare was on a bus on the way home from a night shift as a security worker when he said he saw a boy in a black blazer stab a girl in the neck with a knife which was ‘black, thin and about a foot long’.
The 50-year-old said: ‘The boy wore a black blazer, the girl wore green. It looked like the girl didn’t want the boy to come closer.’
He then described the boy stabbing the girl in the neck with a black knife.
‘A lot of people came, everyone came off the bus,’ he said. ‘[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.
‘I finished work but couldn’t sleep, so came back, I wanted to see if the girl was OK.’
Croydon MP Sarah Jones attended the police press conference alongside Croydon mayor Jason Perry.
Locals say they saw a group of schoolchildren getting off the No 60 bus outside the Whitgift Centre
They said a row between the girl and boy – who were both in school uniform – ‘spilled out’ on to a street busy with pedestrians
Ms Jones said: ‘I’m heartbroken that a child in my town has been killed on her way to school and I cannot imagine the grief that her family will be going through at this time.
‘I want to thank the police and the ambulance services for trying so hard to save her life. They run into danger and I know they will be suffering today, too.
‘I want to repeat the request from the police that if anybody has any information please do get in touch.
‘We all hold our children close and our community will take time to grieve, but for today we are just thinking of this young girl and her family. I’m so sorry.’
Mr Perry added: ‘We all personally feel devastated by the events that have happened here in Croydon this morning and the tragic loss of such a young life.
‘The community are feeling that hurt right now and we will do everything we can to support the community through such a very difficult time.’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Greatest Hits Radio London: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family of the 15-year-old child who has been stabbed in Croydon.
‘I’ve been in touch with the commissioner [Sir Mark Rowley] and we are in touch with the police.
‘It’s heartbreaking. An arrest has been made of another teenager in relation to this matter.
‘There were other people present and I’d encourage them to contact the police. If they are worried about the anonymity they can ring Crimestoppers.
‘It’s really important people come forward and support the police to make sure justice occurs for this poor girl’s family.’
Privacy screens and a tent outside the Whitgift centre in Croydon while a bus sits beside the pavement nearby
A photo of police cars rushing to the scene of the stabbing in south London
Police cars surrounded the parked bus in Croydon shortly after the attack
Video and pictures posted on social media showed huge police presence and two white privacy screens surrounding the scene.
A number of Scotland Yard officers can be seen standing behind a cordon, with one holding up a towel while a paramedic carrying a medic bag crouches to the ground.
Beldine Kutima, a receptionist at a nearby four-star hotel, told The Evening Standard: ‘One of our duty managers went to get the bus but she came back in total shock and was crying heavily.
‘She ran back screaming and grabbed towels from the back room and ran back out there.’
An estate agent who works near the scene where the girl was stabbed complained Croydon had seen an upsurge in violence.
Leigh Thomas, 41, said: ‘I came out of my office and there were two ambulances right across the road and about 12 police cars.’
He added: ‘Croydon has gone to the dogs recently. The other side of the shopping centre is a war zone.
‘There’s drug dealing, fights, there was another stabbing recently. I grew up around here, it’s not what it used to be.’
Scotland Yard has confirmed that a 17-year-old boy has been arrested
Transport for London (TfL) has diverted its 60, 407, and 455 routes due to the incident
Home Office minister Chris Philp posted on X: ‘Devastating news that a 15-year-old girl was fatally stabbed in Croydon town centre and died soon afterwards on the scene, despite the best efforts of the emergency services.
‘Our hearts go out to her family who must be in deep shock at their terrible loss.
‘Nothing can be worse for a parent than losing a child.
‘An arrest was made shortly afterwards of a teenager believed to be known to the victim.
‘We must redouble our efforts to take all knives off the streets of London, using every means available.’
Transport for London (TfL) has diverted its 60, 407, and 455 routes due to the incident.
Wellesley Road has been closed northbound from Whitgift Centre to St Michael’s Road.