A murder investigation has been begun by police in Liverpool, northwest England after a 12-year-old girl was slain in an assault in the city centre on Thursday evening.
The child, identified as Ava White, was with friends at the time, according to Merseyside Police. The Christmas tree lights on Church Street, in the heart of the city’s main shopping district, had been turned on not long earlier.
Four male suspects, one aged 13, two aged 14, and one aged 15, have been arrested on suspicion of murder. They are all from the city’s Toxteth neighbourhood.
According to a police statement released Friday, officers were dispatched to reports of an assault around 8.40 p.m. local time. They discovered Ava collapsed on the ground, with a bystander administering first assistance.
“Paramedics attended at the scene and Ava was taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where sadly she died a short time later despite the best efforts of medical staff,” the statement said.
Ava White, 12, is seen in a photo given by Merseyside Police after she died in an incident in Liverpool city centre.
The Merseyside force’s sympathies were with Ava’s family, according to Assistant Chief Constable Jon Roy.
“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,” he said.
“We believe that Ava and her friends had been involved in a verbal argument which culminated in Ava being assaulted causing catastrophic injuries.”
Roy urged anyone who may have witnessed the incident or captured it on cell phone video to contact the police. According to him, the city centre was busy at the moment due to the formal turning on of the lights.
According to police, a number of streets have been sealed off as forensic officers investigate. In the next days, more officers will be deployed in the city centre to provide confidence to residents.
“Ava’s death should be a reminder to us all about the part that we each have to play in eliminating violence against women and girls,” said Roy.
He also mentioned that she died on White Ribbon Day, a global movement to end violence against women. Partners from throughout the city had gathered earlier that day to kick off 16 days of activities aimed at raising awareness of the issue and demonstrating that violence against women and girls would not be accepted, he said.