A 15-year-old boy has been stabbed to death during a large fight outside a birthday party at a community centre in east London.
Witnesses said the teenager’s friends screamed “he’s dead” and “they’ve killed my best friend” as a group of youths “scattered” following the attack.
Violence broke out at the community centre on Clockhouse Lane in Romford on Saturday night after scores of youths were apparently turned away from the party, attended by up to 100 people.
The teenager was found with knife wounds and died at the scene.
Three teenage boys have been arrested on suspicion of murder and taken for questioning at separate police stations in east London, the Metropolitan Police said.
A witness who gave her name only as Carol described the scene as ”chaos” and said she heard friends of the victim screaming and sobbing.
She said: “Around 9.20pm I heard a lot of noise going on. For some reason it didn’t sound right.
“It was mostly black boys out there. Then I heard a lad crying down the phone ‘he’s dead, he’s dead’.
“He was lying down in the road, there was a lot of blood. The police were working on him, they tried their absolute damnedest with that boy last night.”
A teenager, who saw the aftermath of the attack and gave her name only as Ellie, added: “There was a big group on the corner with just the boy on the floor.
“There were paramedics doing shocks and CPR on him for quite a while. The best part of an hour. After, he was just laying there with a white sheet over him, it was covered in blood.”
A cordon remained in place on Sunday morning as police forensic teams searched for evidence.
Local Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, who visited the scene, said it was “devastating” that the young boy’s life had been “so tragically cut short”.
The local Labour party described it as an “awful incident”, saying: “Our young people and our communities deserve more than this.”
The boy is the 22nd young person to be murdered with a knife in London this year, amid a surge in the number of knife crimes against under-25s in England and Wales.
It comes as The Independent revealed police are failing to solve 63 per cent of these crimes, prompting calls from politicians and youth workers for ministers to reverse “disastrous” cuts to police and youth services.
Officers were first called to North Romford Community Centre at 9.05pm following reports of youths fighting and causing damage to the building.
Detective Sergeant Gurj Singh said: “Response officers who attended the initial calls were confronted with up to 100 youths leaving a birthday party gathering at a community centre.
“There appeared to be fighting and tragically a teenager has been found with fatal injuries.”
Conor Rufus, 20, estimated there were actually up to 200 people on the street.
“It was all kicking off. There was all this screaming,” he said. ”Some people were running toward the body, some people were running away, there were cars coming and picking people up.”
The next of kin of the boy killed have been informed, although he has not been publicly named.
A bus driver aged in his fifties was treated for a head injury at the scene but no one else was hurt.
Tweeting after visiting the scene, Mr Rosindell said: “This is devastating news for the residents of North Romford. We must now wait for all the facts about this incident to be released.
“Until then, our condolences must go to the family of the young boy whose life has so tragically been cut short on our streets tonight.”
Detectives have appealed anyone present contact to contact police about what they saw and heard and to hand any video footage or images of the violence.
Response Team Inspector Michael O’Donoghue, from the Met’s East Area, added: “Officers have been out in force this evening providing reassurance to those in the community who have no doubt been shocked by this appalling attack on a teenager.
“We will continue to provide a high-visibility presence and officers will be on hand to hear from those from the local community.”
Any witnesses or people with information are urged to call the incident room on 0208 345 3775 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. They can also give information online via Crimestoppers or tweet police via MetCC.