Hero girl, 15, died in the street next to blood-soaked roses: Witnesses describe horror as 'boy's row with the ex he tried to win back with flowers led to girl's brave mate being fatally knifed when she stepped in before killer, 17, fled on tram'

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  • Reading time:14 min(s) read

  • Officers arrested a 17-year-old boy in nearby New Addington at 9.45am 

A 15-year-old girl was stabbed to death by a knife-wielding schoolboy after a row with his ex-girlfriend spilled out of a bus onto the streets of Croydon, horrified witnesses have said.

Last night tributes poured in for the heroic pupil, named locally as Eliyanna, who was knifed to death while on her way to Old Palace of John Whitgift School yesterday.

Locals told of how they saw a group schoolchildren getting off the No 60 bus outside the Whitgift Centre before a row broke out on a street filled with pedestrians.

A youth worker said he understood the boy tried to give a bouquet of flowers to his former girlfriend on the bus but tensions flared when they stepped off the red double-decker, which was packed with commuters and other school children. 

The friend is said to have rejected the flowers and had also tried to return a bag of possessions following the break-up. 

When the fight broke out, the victim was said to intervene, leading the boy to reportedly pull out a foot-long, serrated zombie knife before stabbing the teenager, said to be from a West African Christian family, in the ‘neck and chest’.

The suspect, whose weapon was described as being ‘as big as a sword’, then reportedly fled the scene, being chased by brave passengers who had also been on the bus.

The bus driver and passengers desperately tried to save the young girl, as another schoolgirl reportedly screamed ‘that’s my best friend’, as she tried to push through to see Eliyanna.

Her family, who had been called to the scene, rushed down to the bus stop but she sadly died at 9.21am – before they could say goodbye. 

Just 75 minutes after the attack, officers arrested a 17-year-old boy five miles away on a tram in nearby New Addington at 9.45am, the Sun reported. Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain said police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. 

Forensic scientists at the scene yesterday were seen collecting blood stained red roses and a love note which read: ‘I love you so so much and I [have] never met someone with a better smile and better eyes than what you have. Your [sic] special girl… princess.’

Forensic scientists at the scene were seen collecting blood stained red roses

Forensic scientists at the scene were seen collecting blood stained red roses 

The young girl died at the scene after being stabbed on her way to school

The young girl died at the scene after being stabbed on her way to school

The victim, who as a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, has tonight been named locally as Eliyanna

The victim, who as a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, has tonight been named locally as Eliyanna

Floral tributes and card laid at the scene in Croydon, south London

Floral tributes and card laid at the scene in Croydon, south London

The father of a friend of the girl from Old Palace of John Whitgift School said the teenager was stabbed after intervening in a heated argument between her friend and the friend’s former ‘boyfriend’.

He said: ‘My daughter is friends with the girls. She’s devastated about what happened. It’s horrible.’

Chevanice Thomas, whose friend witnessed the stabbing, after the boys flowers were rejected moments before he attacked the victim with a blade ‘as big as a sword’.

‘She [the victim] tried to get in between the pair as they were fighting over a bag. The friend was apparently trying to return stuff to him as they’d broken up the day before,’ the man said.

A mother of two, who wanted to be named only as Bridget, said: ‘I saw them resuscitating her. The driver was holding her, and a lady. The emergency services were already here.’ 

She said two other schoolgirls, believed to be the victim’s friends, were trying to get through the police cordon but were held back.

Michael Fyffe, who witnessed the attack, told Sky News: ‘There were loads of people who had just come off the bus and then I think two of the girl’s friends came out and they were trying to rush over towards the body. 

‘So myself and a few of the other people tried to hold her back and just say, “Look, let them try and help your friend”, and she was just screaming, “Is my friend dead? She’s my best friend”.’

Security worker Victor Asare described the knife as ‘black, thin and about a foot long’. He said: ‘A lot of people came, everyone came off the bus. [The suspect] ran away. Everybody was crying and screaming. The girl was on the floor.

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'

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’ 

Yesterday, forensics officers were seen removing a handwritten love note from the scene

Yesterday, forensics officers were seen removing a handwritten love note from the scene

Last night tributes began to pour in for the teenager

Last night tributes began to pour in for the teenager 

‘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.’

‘The boy wore a black blazer, the girl wore green. It looked like the girl didn’t want the boy to come closer,’ the 50-year-old added.

‘I finished work but couldn’t sleep, so came back, I wanted to see if the girl was OK.’

Anthony King, chairman of the My Ends project said: ‘They were heading to school on the bus this morning. All of them were scheduled to be at school by quarter to nine.

‘Their school is ten minutes away from here and sadly the young lady didn’t make it.’

Staff at the Leonardo Hotel on Wellesley Road, were among those at the scene. Beldine Kutima, who works there, told The Telegraph: ‘One of our duty managers went to get the bus, but she came back in screaming and grabbing towels from the back room. 

‘She ran out there with bin bags and towels. She was crying and in shock.’ 

The girl’s family rushed to the scene of the stabbing after being called by friends but she had passed away before they arrived, said James Watkins, of Mainz World, a local group that works with troubled youths.

One card wrote 'why?' before wishing condolences to the teenager's family

One card wrote ‘why?’ before wishing condolences to the teenager’s family 

Another read: 'Little princess. So sad your life was taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul'

Another read: ‘Little princess. So sad your life was taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul’

Forensic officers walk past the scene, which features several privacy screens

Forensic officers walk past the scene, which features several privacy screens 

A forensic investigator puts flowers into a container at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon

A forensic investigator puts flowers into a container at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon

A man delivers two bunches of flowers to the scene where the girl was killed yesterday

A man delivers two bunches of flowers to the scene where the girl was killed yesterday

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley at the scene in Croydon yesterday afternoon

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley at the scene in Croydon yesterday afternoon

Mr Watkins, who works at the youth prevention and intervention programmes at Mainz World, added: ‘It’s disgusting, when we look at these children being killed that are from the borough it hurts you in the heart. These could be our kids, it’s devastating.’

Last night, grieving families and school friends left heartbreaking messages at the scene last night.

One note, from Edith, read: ‘Rest in peace, little princess. So sad your life is taken away at your prime; you have touched my soul.’ Another read: ‘Sorry we live in this crazy world – this makes no sense.’

Tributes have poured in for the ‘jovial’ and ‘much loved’ teen who had a ‘bright future ahead of her’ – expected to pass all her GCSES later this school year. 

Mr King added: ‘The [victim’s] family and extended family are devastated. I can’t articulate the sound of the tears and genuine heartbreak that took place this morning. 

‘[The girl] was going to pass her GCSEs, she had a bright future ahead of her. An absolutely incredible young lady, very articulate. One of the young people said she was jovial and very funny.’

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. 

Speaking to journalists yesterday afternoon, Chief Superintendent Brittain said officers arrived within two minutes of being called and gave the suspect's age as 17

Speaking to journalists yesterday 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

Privacy screens have been set up around the scene of the stabbing in Croydon, south London  

‘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.’

The number 60 bus remains behind the police cordon, where forensics officers are carrying out inquiries

The number 60 bus remains behind the police cordon, where forensics officers are carrying out inquiries 

The Met said officers were on the scene of the stabbing within two minutes

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.

Yesterday 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

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 forensic investigator onboard the bus where the argument is believed to have started 

Privacy screens and a tent outside the Whitgift centre in Croydon while a bus sits beside the pavement nearby

Privacy screens and a tent outside the Whitgift centre in Croydon while a bus sits beside the pavement nearby

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

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

They said a row between the girl and boy – who were both in school uniform – ‘spilled out’ on to a street busy with pedestrians

A forensic officer picks up the bunch of flowers from the scene of the fatal stabbing on Wellesley Road

A forensic officer picks up the bunch of flowers from the scene of the fatal stabbing on Wellesley Road

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.’ 

Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said tonight: ‘The senseless murder of a 15-year-old girl on her way to school is impossible to comprehend.

‘It was moving and humbling to meet many members of the exceptional Croydon community who have come together in support of a family now dealing with the most unimaginable grief.

‘The commitment of so many from the local community is inspiring. A powerful partnership between charitable groups, faith and community leaders, the local authority, the wider public and our officers has delivered so much work across the borough. They have collectively saved many lives from knife crime. 

‘Many are shocked and hurting. They care deeply and it’s this passion which has made Croydon a safer place and will continue to in the future.

‘I spoke to officers who, with members of the public, were among the first on scene with colleagues trying to save this young girl’s life and have since supported her family and friends. Through diligent work by them all an early arrest was made and our major crime team now continue to investigate the events leading up to this awful attack.’

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.’

A photo of police cars rushing to the scene of the stabbing in south London

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

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

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

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) diverted its 60, 407, and 455 routes due to the incident. 

Wellesley Road was closed northbound from Whitgift Centre to St Michael’s Road. 




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