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'We're struggling to comprehend this painful tragedy': Family of girl, 15, stabbed in Croydon pay tribute as vigil held
28 September 2023, 20:40 | Updated: 29 September 2023, 00:07
Crowds have gathered for the vigil of Elianne Andam, 15, in south London this evening as loved ones pay tribute to their 'beautiful child'.
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The family of Elianne Andam, 15, who was stabbed on her way to school on a bus in Croydon on Wednesday have visited a vigil being held for her this evening.
The young girl’s family members gathered next to a bus stop inside the police cordon where Elianne died on Thursday evening. Her family members stood with arms around each other and laid flowers on the ground as a church leader read out a statement on their behalf.
The statement read: “We as a family are struggling to comprehend this painful tragedy that has happened to our beautiful daughter and beloved sister Elianne. Our hearts are broken.
"And we are overwhelmed by sorrow and grief. Our faith in the Lord is strengthening us.
"We would like to express our gratitude to those who have taken the time to send us thoughtful and compassionate messages and prayers.
"We kindly ask for your consideration to also respect our need for privacy as we attempt to come to grips with our deeply devastating loss.
"Elianne was a beautiful person inside and out who loved Jesus. She was intelligent, thoughtful, kind and had a bright future ahead. It is our request that you keep our cherished daughter Elianne and our family, in your thoughts and prayers."
Witnesses have said Elianne's attacker tried to give flowers to his ex-girlfriend on a bus, but they were rejected, and the victim was then stabbed in the neck after she stepped in to protect her friend.
A teenager, 17, has been arrested and is being questioned by police.
Donna Murray-Turner, chairwoman of the local Safer Neighbourhood Board, who visited Elianne’s school earlier on Thursday said the ‘bright and funny’ girl’s friends were “so emotional” following the news of her death.
She said: “Staff, teachers, talked about when she entered a room you knew she was there. And her friends, as you can imagine, were sobbing. They were so emotional."
Dozens of bouquets of flowers were laid at the scene of where Elianne died as more than 20 close family members and friends attended.
Ms Murray-Turner added: “I was here yesterday when the headteacher was told. I was asked to be present.
"Headteachers are like another form of 'mum'. It was devastating.
"The hurt when you read the condolence books. You get a real sense of (Elianne) in the pages.
"People just looked devastated, very quiet. It is a community that is mourning."
A handwritten note from a year 11 pupil left at the scene of where Elianne died read: “May she rest in peace. She will always be remembered."
Bishop Mark Nicholson from Acts Christian Church told crowds at the vigil: "Our hearts are burning. It doesn't matter if you are related or not...
"Another life lost. In our city always, majoring on knife crime.
"I don't have the solution but I can pray to bring solace. Not just one side of the family, both.
"Loads of things are going on in their mind at the moment."
It comes after Elianne’s family released a tribute to the schoolgirl earlier on Thursday.
Her family described Elianne, an aspiring lawyer, as "bright and funny" and said they are heartbroken by her "senseless death". “Our hearts are broken by the senseless death of our daughter," a family statement reads.
"Elianne was the light of our lives. She was bright and funny, with many friends who all adored her. She was only 15, and had her whole life ahead of her, with hopes and dreams for the future.
“All those dreams have now been shattered. Our lives have fallen apart, along with that of our wider family. We ask the media to please respect our privacy as we try to grieve the short life of our beautiful child."