A 12-year-old girl has died following an assault in Liverpool city centre – with four schoolboys as young as 13 arrested on suspicion of murder.
Merseyside Police said Ava White suffered ‘catastrophic injuries’ in an assault following a verbal argument in the city at 8.39pm, shortly after the Christmas lights switch on took place.
Four boys – one aged 13, two aged 14 and one 15-year-old – have been arrested on suspicion of murder, the force said.
When police arrived at the scene, they found Ava, who was with friends, collapsed on the ground and receiving first aid from a member of the public.
Paramedics attended and she was taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where she died a short time later.
Assistant Chief Constable Jon Roy said: ‘Our thoughts and condolences go out to Ava’s family, who are being supported by specialist family liaison officers.
‘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.
‘Liverpool City Centre was very busy at the time of the incident as the lights on the Christmas tree on Church Street had been officially switched on a short while earlier and we would appeal to anyone who was on Church Street who saw the incident, or may even have captured it on their mobile phone, to come forward.’
A Home Office post-mortem is due to be carried out to establish the cause of death.
Mr Roy added: ‘An extensive cordon remains in place at the scene, which includes Williamson Square, Tarleton Street, Church Street, Church Alley, School Lane crossing over Hanover Street on to Fleet Street, whilst forensic experts continue their examinations.
‘We will endeavour to release the scene as soon as is practically possible, but we would ask members of the public for their understanding and patience whilst our investigations are being carried out so that we can bring justice for Ava and her family.’
Merseyside Police said there would be additional officers in the city over the coming days and in the run up to Christmas to provide reassurance.
Police appealed to anyone who witnessed the incident or may have filmed it to contact them either on Twitter at @MerPolCC, via Merseyside Police Contact Centre on Facebook or by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 with reference 0899 of November 25.