COPS investigating the death of a little girl who was stabbed at a Christmas lights switch-on are searching for the driver of a hire van.
Four teenage boys have been arrested after Ava White, 12, suffered "catastrophic" injuries during a horrific attack in Liverpool.
And detectives say they need to track down a motorist seen at the wheel of a grey Enterprise van – as they might have crucial information.
Police and paramedics rushed to Church Alley in the city just before 8.40pm on Thursday night after receiving reports of an assault.
When they arrived, they discovered Ava collapsed on the ground as a member of the public desperately tried to save her life.
The schoolgirl was rushed to Alder Hey Children's Hospital.
However, despite the efforts of medics, she died shortly after her arrival.
Four boys – a 13-year-old, two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old – remain in custody as police quiz them on suspicion of Ava's murder.
HORROR AT LIGHT SWITCH-ON
This afternoon, Detective Superintendent Sue Coombs urged the van driver to come forward.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to Ava’s family, friends and the wider community," she said.
"Ava’s family are being supported by specialist officers and they have requested that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.
"Merseyside Police is absolutely determined to bring those responsible to justice. Today we are also issuing new images of Ava from her family.
“We are also sharing a still image of a van which was in the vicinity of the incident and may have witnessed something vital.
"To be clear, we think those vehicle's occupants are witnesses, and in no way suspected of being involved.
"However, we still need to speak to those people as soon as possible to confirm what information they might hold."
SCREAMS AS AVA COLLAPSED
Anyone with information who has not yet spoken to police should also come forward.
“Four males remain in custody for questioning, and a part of the city centre remains cordoned off while we continue our work," Det Supt Coombs said.
"I’d like to thank the businesses and residents in the area for their patience and understanding while we make these vital enquiries.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind people not to make any comments on social media which might potentially jeopardise our investigation, including of course names of any people potentially involved.
"We welcome any such information, but please only pass it on in the following ways so we can continue to make progress in our investigation.”
Ava's friends and family are among those to lay bouquets and messages in the street following the Notre Dame Catholic College pupil's death.
One friend, a 17-year-old Lacey, said: "She was just a bubbly character, so loving and caring.
"She came out with her friends to enjoy herself and I think it's just wrong that this has happened."
Witnesses heard screaming as Ava collapsed to the ground. The streets were packed with families enjoying the festivities.
Police believe she'd been involved in a "verbal argument" with a group before she was knifed.
The weapon used has not yet been recovered.
Ava's headteacher Peter Duffy said she youngster was "much-loved, valued and unique".
"She was an incredibly popular girl with a fantastic group of friends," he said.
"Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Ava's family and friends and all those affected by this utterly tragic event.
"My staff are working with students to provide all the support they need at this traumatic time."
Anyone with information should contact Merseyside Police on 101 quoting reference 21000820789.
Crimestoppers will also take evidence anonymously via 0800 555 111.
Source: Read Full Article