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Pictured: Hero schoolgirl, 15, stabbed to death in Croydon 'when she stepped in to protect her friend'
28 September 2023, 09:39 | Updated: 28 September 2023, 14:23
A hero schoolgirl who was stabbed to death while protecting her friend from an ex has been identified as tributes were paid to the “beautiful soul”.
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The victim has been named locally as Elianne Andam, 15, a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift school in Croydon.
She was attacked at 8.30am yesterday, less than a mile from the school gates.
A bus driver and passers-by battled to save her but she died on the pavement, despite their efforts and the efforts of paramedics who rushed to the scene.
Witnesses have said the 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.
Flowers left in tribute at the scene read: “RIP Eliyanna.”
One of the cards left near to where the attack took place read: “Sorry we live in this crazy world this makes no sense.
“Fly high up there my mummy will look after you. RIP beautiful, forever young, taken too soon.
“Thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends, God bless.”
One person paid tribute, writing online: “This is so sad. She had her whole life ahead of her and it was taken by a man because she rejected him. Rest in peace angel.”
Another said: “May she rest in piece, I am so sorry that this world is so cruel.”
Her aunt Marian told the Evening Standard: “She went to a private school paid by sister and had a great future ahead of her. She wanted to be a lawyer. She also loved gymnastics and doing her hair.
“We are a big family and supporting each other. We are devastated.
“We can’t comprehend the heartbreak of the last 24 hours. She went to school and didn’t come home."
Roads minister Richard Holden told LBC's Nick Ferrari that "anyone's child" could have been killed in a similar situation.
"A 15-year-old girl senselessly taken away - I can understand why everyone is so saddened and absolutely sickened by incidents like this," he said.
He added: "Often this isn’t the people carrying the knives, this is just people who, like this young lady, happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time - just standing up for a friend."
Asked if parents should be held partially responsible for violent children, as well as police and local and city authorities, Mr Holden agreed, but added: "It’s incumbent on us all actually, if we know of situations like this or people carrying knives, we really do have to report them and get it stopped...
"It could be you, it could be your child, or your friend who ends up sadly killed in this way."
Roads Minister Richard Holden on Croydon stabbing
Elianne was knifed in the neck after an argument between her friend and her friend's ex-boyfriend on the bus turned violent on Wednesday morning.
Eyewitnesses said a machete-style blade was drawn in the fight.
Bus passenger 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."
Chevanice Thomas, 28, said a boy "gave [a girl] flowers, but she didn't want anything to do with him" before the encounter turned violent.
Security worker Victor Asare said: "A lot of people came, everyone came off the bus.
“(The suspect) ran. 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 17-year-old boy thought to have been known to the victim was arrested in New Addington in south London yesterday. Detectives have been given extra time to question the 17-year-old.
Eyewitness said they saw children running from the scene at about 8.30am.
The girl and her attacker ended up on the pavement and she was stabbed there.
Victor Asare, who was coming home on a bus from his security job, said he saw a boy in a black blazer stab a girl in the neck with a blade that was "about a foot long".
"Everybody was crying and screaming. The girl was on the floor," he told The Sun.
"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."
Earlier, it emerged the girl's family were called to the scene but tragically they did not make it in time.
"I got a phone call from the police and came down, and it was here I spoke to the family," James Watkins, a support worker at youth organisation Mainz World, said.
"They received a call to come to the scene shortly after the incident happened. Unfortunately they [were not] able to arrive in time [before she died]."
Old Palace of John Whitgift School described the victim as a "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."
Forensics officers were seen picking up a note and putting it in an evidence box.
"I love you so much and I never met someone with a better smile and better eyes than what you have, special girl," it said.
An envelope had written on it: "I love you so much and I never met someone with a better smile and better eyes than what you have, special girl".
Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: "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."
The Metropolitan Police said a teenager had been arrested at around 9.45am in the Croydon area.
"At this early stage we believe that he may have known her," police said.
Jason Perry, the Mayor of Croydon, said he was "devastated" by the news, and said his team's thoughts were with the victim's family and friends.
"I would like to thank all those who responded so quickly and professionally to the incident," he said.