Liverpool was full of grief and anger on Friday, following the death of Ava White, reports Hannah Miller from the city
A 12-year-old girl who was stabbed and died after a Christmas lights switch-on in Liverpool received a charity's 'peace ambassador' award just two years ago.
"Popular” and “bright” Ava White had been in the city with friends on Thursday when she suffered “catastrophic injuries” in an assault at 8.39pm following an argument, Merseyside Police said.
Four boys, one aged 13, two aged 14 and one 15-year-old, all from the Toxteth area of the city, remain in custody after they were arrested on suspicion of murder.
On Friday, flowers were being laid on Church Street in tribute to the Notre Dame Catholic College pupil, as forensics officers and police searched the scene.
In 2019 Ava won a 'Peace Ambassador' award from the Peace Foundation, which was formed by campaigner Colin Parry OBE, whose son was killed by an IRA bomb in Warrington.
Posting about Ava's death on Twitter, he said: "Ava White who was stabbed to death in Liverpool received a ‘Peace Ambassador’ award from Wendy Parry and I on behalf of Peace Foundation in 2019. What a tragic loss for her family. Our Peace Foundation will be at her school again on Monday. RIP Ava."
Following the stabbing, Ava was rushed to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where she died a short time later.
Police have confirmed that she was assaulted with a knife, before "collapsing to the ground", and say "a member of the public who witnessed the incident was giving first aid".
Merseyside Police say the suspected offenders were seen running up School Lane across Hanover Street and on to Fleet Street following the incident.
Merseyside Police give an update after four teenage boys were arrested
No weapon has yet been found.
Detective superintendent Sue Coombes, who is leading the investigation, said: "We have a number of witnesses, including a family members and friends."
She continues to say a small group of young people were present when Ava was assaulted, and say there are a number of witnesses that 'they wish to seek clarity from'.
Police say there is "a lot of CCTV" that they are searching through to understand how the argument escalated.
Assistant Chief Constable Ngaire Waine said the incident was “sad for the city” but “even sadder” for Ava’s family.
She said: “We will put everything we can to ensure we get justice for her but then I’m sure we will be looking at whether there were things we could have done, or our partners could have done, that might have made a difference, because we never want another 12-year-old, here or anywhere else, to be murdered when they are out and about having fun with their friends.”
Speaking to ITV News, Ava's former headteacher at her primary school paid tribute to her.
Ava White's former headteacher at Trinity Catholic Primary School paid tribute to her
"She was just so sweet and that's how staff remember her," Rebecca Flynn from Trinity Catholic Primary School said.
"All the staff have said today how she was quiet, she was kind, she was caring and for this to happen to her, it's devastating."
Fleet Street, School Lane and Church Alley, in Liverpool city centre, all remain closed while investigations continue.
Anyone who witnessed the incident, or who has information which could help police with their enquiries, is asked to DM @MerPolCC or @CrimestoppersUK on 0800 555 111 with reference 0899 of 25 November.