Four schoolboys have been arrested after a 12-year-old girl was assaulted at a Christmas light show in England and died from her injuries. The fatal street attack was witnessed by crowds of children.
Ava White, 12, was out with her friends on Thursday night during the annual switch-on of the Christmas tree lights in Liverpool city center. According to police, Ava and her friends got into an argument with some boys after the light show had ended. The girl was then assaulted—reportedly by stabbing—and she died of her wounds at a nearby hospital.
Merseyside Police confirmed in a statement that four teen boys—one aged 13, two aged 14 and one aged 15—have been arrested on suspicion of murder. None of the suspects has been publicly identified.
“We believe that Ava and her friends had been involved in a verbal argument which culminated in Ava being assaulted causing catastrophic injuries,” Assistant Chief Constable Jon Roy said early Friday. “Our thoughts and condolences go out to Ava’s family... Their world has been torn apart and no parent should ever have to face that knock on the door from police officers to say that their child has died.”
Police said they responded to reports of an assault late on Thursday evening to find Ava “collapsed on the ground” and receiving first aid treatment from a member of the public who witnessed the attack. Paramedics then rushed her to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in the east of the city, where the 12-year-old died shortly after her arrival.
Roy said that Ava’s murder “should be a reminder to us all about the part that we each have to play in eliminating violence against women and girls,”. noting that the girl had been killed on White Ribbon Day—an international campaign day for the eradication of violence against women.
Alan Walsh, an anti-knife crime campaigner and youth worker from Liverpool, said phone calls started flooding into him and his team late at night from distressed kids who had witnessed Ava’s killing.
The youth worker told The Guardian: “I got a phone call at nine minutes past twelve… from a young person who was absolutely heartbroken and traumatized by what he saw... He was just in town when he suddenly saw the girl’s friends screaming and shouting—it was heartbreaking. When that phone call finished another four came through.”
Peter Duffy, the head teacher at Ava’s school, paid tribute to the girl in a statement provided to local newspaper The Liverpool Echo.
Duffy wrote: “Ava was a much loved, valued and unique member of the Notre Dame family. She was an incredibly popular girl with a fantastic group of friends... Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Ava’s family and friends and all those affected by this utterly tragic event.”
Flowers have been left at the crime scene on Church Street in tribute to Ava. One bouquet had the attached message: “Rest in peace, angel.’’
Witnesses have been urged to contact Merseyside Police.