Pictured: Hero schoolgirl, 15, stabbed to death on Croydon

Family of hero Eliyanna Andam, 15, release heartbreaking tribute to teenager who dreamed of being a lawyer – but was stabbed to death on Croydon bus when she tried to protect her friend: ‘Our beautiful girl went to school and never came home’

  • Officers arrested a 17-year-old boy in nearby New Addington at 9.45am

This is the first picture of the ‘beautiful’ 15-year-old girl stabbed to death in Croydon, as her ‘devastated’ family revealed her dream was to be a lawyer before she was robbed of a ‘great future’ by her killer when she stepped in to protect a friend.

Eliyanna Andam, a pupil at the £20,000-a-year Old Palace of John Whitgift private school, was attacked at 8.30am yesterday – less than a mile away from the school gates. 

Eliyanna’s devastated family told MailOnline of their grief today. An aunt, who only gave her name as Marian, said: ‘You just can’t comprehend the heartbreak of the last 24-hours, how Eliyanna went to school and never came home’. 

A row spilt out of the number 60 bus outside the Whitgift Shopping Centre close to East Croydon station on Wednesday morning.

A teenage boy dressed in black stabbed the 15-year-old private schoolgirl in the neck and chest with a ‘sword-like’ zombie knife after her friend rejected his flowers and love letter before he was arrested on a tram around an hour later. 

Speaking at Eliyanna’s mother’s home in Croydon, her aunt said: ‘She wanted to be a lawyer, she went to private school paid for by my sister and had a great future ahead of her. She was a lovely girl, she loved doing her hair, had beautiful natural hair, and she really gymnastics.

‘We’re a big family and we are all here for our sister, to support her, we’re a big family this has left us absolutely devastated. My sister is not feeling good, this only happened yesterday. It hasn’t sunk in yet, it’s a tragedy.’

This is the first picture of Eliyanna Andam, the 15-year-old schoolgirl stabbed in the neck in Croydon 

Eliyanna’s family rushed to the scene after her friends told them she had been stabbed. Tragically she died at the scene. Marian  (right), the aunt of murdered schoolgirl, paid tribute to her niece today

A bus driver and passers-by battled to save her but the girl, from a West African Christian family, died on the pavement just minutes after the attack, less than a mile from her £20,000-a-year elite independent school.

James Watkins said the teenager’s family rushed to the scene but she had already died. ‘They were unable to say goodbye,’ he said. 

Filomena Merola laid flowers by the police tape on Thursday morning.

The 57-year-old, who grew up in Croydon, said: ‘That young girl could not even go to school without being cut down.

‘We all have young teenagers in our lives, in our families. It has just struck a chord.’

A youth worker said he understood the boy tried to give a bouquet of flowers to his former girlfriend on the bus but tensions flared when they stepped off the red double-decker, which was packed with commuters and other school children.

The friend is said to have rejected the flowers and had also tried to return a bag of possessions following the break-up. The victim stepped in to protect her and was stabbed in the neck by the teen ‘wearing all black’.

Chevanice Thomas’s friend witnessed the girl being attacked. She said: ‘He gave her the flowers and she threw them away. Her friends all dispersed when she went down. After that, the boy apparently stabbed her, blood gushing out and the police put pressure on it. She died on the spot.’

The suspect, whose weapon was described as being ‘as big as a sword’, then reportedly fled the scene, being chased by brave passengers who had also been on the bus. Just 75 minutes after the attack, officers arrested the 17-year-old boy five miles away on a tram in nearby New Addington at 9.45am. Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain said police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. 

Former Met Chief Supt Simon Ovens said: ‘Police have got to get to grips with young people carrying knives.

‘There has been a huge drop in stop-and-search in the last ten years. Police are scared of stopping young people in the street because of the risk of complaints.

‘Youngsters are therefore prepared to carry knives because they know the chance of being found with a weapon is so low.

‘As well as carrying knives they are prepared to use them and never think about the consequences for their victim or themselves.’

Flowers at the Murder scene in Croydon today as a 17-year-old boy remains in custody

Mourners lay flowers and tributes to the schoolgirl in a crime described by police as ‘every parent’s nightmare’

The victim, who as a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon, has tonight been named locally as Eliyanna

Forensic scientists at the scene were seen collecting blood stained red roses , which were said to be at the heart of the row

Yesterday, forensics officers were seen removing a handwritten love note from the scene

Security worker Victor Asare described the knife as ‘black, thin and about a foot long’. He said: ‘A lot of people came, everyone came off the bus. [The suspect] ran away. Everybody was crying and screaming. The girl was on the floor. 

‘We tried to catch him and a lot of people tried to save the girl. I was so shocked, I was shaken. It’s somebody’s daughter.’

‘The boy wore a black blazer, the girl wore green. It looked like the girl didn’t want the boy to come closer,’ the 50-year-old added.

‘I finished work but couldn’t sleep, so came back, I wanted to see if the girl was OK.’

Anthony King, chairman of the My Ends project said: ‘They were heading to school on the bus this morning. All of them were scheduled to be at school by quarter to nine.

‘Their school is ten minutes away from here and sadly the young lady didn’t make it.’

The bus driver and passengers desperately tried to save the young girl, as another schoolgirl reportedly screamed ‘that’s my best friend’, as she tried to push through to see Eliyanna.

Her family, who had been called to the scene, rushed down to the bus stop but she sadly died at 9.21am – before they could say goodbye. 

Forensic scientists at the scene yesterday were seen collecting blood stained red roses and a love note which read: ‘I love you so so much and I [have] never met someone with a better smile and better eyes than what you have. Your [sic] special girl… princess.’

The young girl died at the scene after being stabbed on her way to school

Floral tributes and card laid at the scene in Croydon, south London

Witnesses said the boy had tried to give the girl flowers but she replied that she ‘didn’t want to go out with him anymore’ 

Last night tributes began to pour in for the teenager 

The father of a friend of the girl from Old Palace of John Whitgift School said the teenager was stabbed after intervening in a heated argument between her friend and the friend’s former ‘boyfriend’.

He said: ‘My daughter is friends with the girls. She’s devastated about what happened. It’s horrible.’

A mother of two, who wanted to be named only as Bridget, said: ‘I saw them resuscitating her. The driver was holding her, and a lady. The emergency services were already here.’ 

She said two other schoolgirls, believed to be the victim’s friends, were trying to get through the police cordon but were held back.

Michael Fyffe, who witnessed the attack, told Sky News: ‘There were loads of people who had just come off the bus and then I think two of the girl’s friends came out and they were trying to rush over towards the body. 

‘So myself and a few of the other people tried to hold her back and just say, ‘Look, let them try and help your friend’, and she was just screaming, ‘Is my friend dead? She’s my best friend’.’

Staff at the Leonardo Hotel on Wellesley Road, were among those at the scene. Beldine Kutima, who works there, told The Telegraph: ‘One of our duty managers went to get the bus, but she came back in screaming and grabbing towels from the back room. 

‘She ran out there with bin bags and towels. She was crying and in shock.’  

One card wrote ‘why?’ before wishing condolences to the teenager’s family 

Another read: ‘Little princess. So sad your life was taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul’

Forensic officers walk past the scene, which features several privacy screens 

A forensic investigator puts flowers into a container at the scene near the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon

A man delivers two bunches of flowers to the scene where the girl was killed yesterday

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley at the scene in Croydon yesterday afternoon

James Watkins, of Mainz World, a local group that works with troubled youths, said: ‘It’s disgusting, when we look at these children being killed that are from the borough it hurts you in the heart. These could be our kids, it’s devastating.’

Last night, grieving families and school friends left heartbreaking messages at the scene last night.

One note, from Edith, read: ‘Rest in peace, little princess. So sad your life is taken away at your prime; you have touched my soul.’ Another read: ‘Sorry we live in this crazy world – this makes no sense.’

Tributes have poured in for the ‘jovial’ and ‘much loved’ teen who had a ‘bright future ahead of her’ – expected to pass all her GCSES later this school year. 

Mr King added: ‘The [victim’s] family and extended family are devastated. I can’t articulate the sound of the tears and genuine heartbreak that took place this morning. 

‘[The girl] was going to pass her GCSEs, she had a bright future ahead of her. An absolutely incredible young lady, very articulate. One of the young people said she was jovial and very funny.’

Speaking to journalists at the scene, Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain said officers were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. 

‘This is every parent’s worst nightmare, and I know the officers who responded this morning, along with our emergency service colleagues, are devastated at the victim’s death,’ he said. 

Speaking to journalists yesterday afternoon, Chief Superintendent Brittain said officers arrived within two minutes of being called and gave the suspect’s age as 17

Privacy screens have been set up around the scene of the stabbing in Croydon, south London  

‘This is an emotion I share and I know people across Croydon will be feeling the same.

‘The victim’s family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at what must be an incredibly difficult time.

‘We carried out urgent inquiries to find the suspect and within 75 minutes of the incident happening a 17-year-old boy was arrested in New Addington. He remains in custody and will be questioned by detectives.

‘We remain in the early stages of our investigation, however based on what we know so far we believe that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this offence.

‘From our initial inquiries, we believe the suspect may have known the victim. However, we’re not in a position to release the victim’s identity at this time.’

A spokesman for the Old Palace of John Whitgift School said: ‘We are deeply shocked by the senseless and tragic death of our much-loved and valued friend and pupil.

‘It will take some time for the Old Palace community to come to terms with this terrible news, and we will offer support to our pupils as we try to do so.

‘Above all, we send our love and deepest sympathies to the girl’s family at this unimaginably distressing time.

Yesterday afternoon a white tent could be seen within a police cordon next to the double-decker bus.  

A forensic investigator onboard the bus where the argument is believed to have started 

Privacy screens and a tent outside the Whitgift centre in Croydon while a bus sits beside the pavement nearby

Locals say they saw a group of schoolchildren getting off the No 60 bus outside the Whitgift Centre

They said a row between the girl and boy – who were both in school uniform – ‘spilled out’ on to a street busy with pedestrians

Croydon MP Sarah Jones attended the police press conference alongside Croydon mayor Jason Perry. 

Ms Jones said: ‘I’m heartbroken that a child in my town has been killed on her way to school and I cannot imagine the grief that her family will be going through at this time.

‘I want to thank the police and the ambulance services for trying so hard to save her life. They run into danger and I know they will be suffering today, too.

‘I want to repeat the request from the police that if anybody has any information please do get in touch.

‘We all hold our children close and our community will take time to grieve, but for today we are just thinking of this young girl and her family. I’m so sorry.’

Mr Perry added: ‘We all personally feel devastated by the events that have happened here in Croydon this morning and the tragic loss of such a young life.

‘The community are feeling that hurt right now and we will do everything we can to support the community through such a very difficult time.’ 

Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said tonight: ‘The senseless murder of a 15-year-old girl on her way to school is impossible to comprehend.

‘It was moving and humbling to meet many members of the exceptional Croydon community who have come together in support of a family now dealing with the most unimaginable grief.

‘The commitment of so many from the local community is inspiring. A powerful partnership between charitable groups, faith and community leaders, the local authority, the wider public and our officers has delivered so much work across the borough. They have collectively saved many lives from knife crime. 

‘Many are shocked and hurting. They care deeply and it’s this passion which has made Croydon a safer place and will continue to in the future.

‘I spoke to officers who, with members of the public, were among the first on scene with colleagues trying to save this young girl’s life and have since supported her family and friends. Through diligent work by them all an early arrest was made and our major crime team now continue to investigate the events leading up to this awful attack.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Greatest Hits Radio London: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family of the 15-year-old child who has been stabbed in Croydon. 

‘I’ve been in touch with the commissioner [Sir Mark Rowley] and we are in touch with the police. 

‘It’s heartbreaking. An arrest has been made of another teenager in relation to this matter.

‘There were other people present and I’d encourage them to contact the police. If they are worried about the anonymity they can ring Crimestoppers.

‘It’s really important people come forward and support the police to make sure justice occurs for this poor girl’s family.’

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