The family of a 15-year-old girl fatally stabbed on her way to school has paid tribute to “the light of our lives”.
Elianne Andam was wounded in the neck after getting off a bus in Croydon, south London at around 8.30am on Wednesday, with members of the public rushing to try to save her.
On Thursday, her family said in a statement through police: “Our hearts are broken by the senseless death of our daughter.
“Elianne was the light of our lives.
“She was bright and funny, with many friends who all adored her.
“She was only 15, and had her whole life ahead of her, with hopes and dreams for the future.
“All those dreams have now been shattered.
“Our lives have fallen apart, along with that of our wider family.
“We ask the media to please respect our privacy as we try to grieve the short life of our beautiful child.”
Dozens of bunches of flowers have been left at the scene of the teenager’s death amid widespread shock at the tragedy.
Police officers who were among the first at the scene and battled to try to save Elianne appeared visibly moved as they laid flowers on Thursday.
Among the floral tributes, cards and candles, one message read: “Rest in peace little princess so sad your life is taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul.”
A 17-year-old boy, who knew the victim, was arrested just over an hour after the attack, which took place on busy Wellesley Road at around 8.30am.
He remains in police custody after officers were given more time to question him.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he is “shocked” and “appalled” by the killing as he called for longer sentences for people who commit “the most heinous crimes”.
He told the BBC: “Everyone will be looking at that and be shocked as I am, appalled by what’s happened and quite frankly angry.
“It just illustrates the importance of clamping down on knife crime.
“The idea that a girl not much older than my own kids would have their life just cruelly ended in that way is shocking, it’s absolutely shocking.”
Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Woodsford, who is leading the investigation, said: “My thoughts and the thoughts of my team are with the Elianne’s family.
“This is a deeply upsetting time for them and we will do everything we can to support them.”
She added: “Our investigation continues and we are making good progress.
“We have recovered CCTV from the area and have spoken to a number of witnesses. Forensic scientists have also examined the scene.
“From these enquiries we are now confident Elianne was attacked outside in Wellesley Road near to the bus stop rather than onboard the bus.
“We know many people were in the area at the time and would have witnessed the attack. This would have been distressing and traumatic and I would encourage anyone who needs support to contact us and we will help to arrange this.
“I know that Elianne’s death has left many people feeling upset and I would like to thank the people of Croydon for the support they have shown us as we have carried out our enquiries in the town centre.
“I know this work has been disruptive, however it has been vital and your patience is appreciated.”
A post-mortem examination will take place on Thursday.
A steady flow of well-wishers left flowers and cards near the scene on Wednesday evening, and the girl’s school Old Palace of John Whitgift School paid tribute to its “valued friend and pupil”.
Anthony King, chairman of My Ends – a project helping combat youth violence in Croydon – described Elianne as an “absolutely incredible young lady” and told of how others said she was “jovial, very comedic”.
He also said the arrested boy had been known to local community groups for the past couple of years.
Witnesses told the PA news agency the girl and her alleged attacker were not in a relationship.
One of the cards left near to where the attack took place read: “Sorry we live in this crazy world this makes no sense.
“Fly high up there my mummy will look after you. RIP beautiful, forever young, taken too soon.
“Thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends, God bless.”
Witnesses or anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting reference CAD 1601/27Sep. To remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online.