A woman accused of fatally stabbing a seven-year-old girl in broad daylight has been detained under the Mental Health Act.
Police launched an urgent appeal for witnesses after the child was targeted in an "unprovoked and random" attack in front of her family on Mother's Day.
A 30-year-old woman – not known to the girl’s family – was chased and detained by a witness after the incident in Queen’s Park, Bolton. She was later arrested on suspicion of murder.
Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson of Greater Manchester Police said on Monday: “The woman arrested at the scene of the attack has now been detained under the Mental Health Act.
A witness described seeing police descend on Queen’s Park this afternoon.— Paige Oldfield (@paigeoldfield22) March 22, 2020
He was playing football with his young son when he overheard reports of a stabbing in the park.
He then saw an air ambulance land nearby and was told to leave the area immediately by officers. @MENnewsdesk pic.twitter.com/u4pbHi2Ss0
“We have informed the family of the woman’s detention. They are understandably distraught and we will continue to support them with family liaison officers in the coming months.
“It is hard to describe how terrible this incident was, the attack happened in front of the parents of this little girl who had taken her out yesterday afternoon to enjoy the spring sun and play in the park.
“Having seen this horrendous attack, a member of the public bravely chased after the woman and detained her until police arrived and arrested her. I would like to thank him for his actions which enabled us to quickly arrest her and prevent anything else from happening.”
On Monday officers continued to stand guard at the scene and the 22-acre park remained closed to the public.
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Assistant Chief Constable Jackson said: “Several officers who attended the park were very young in service in the police, some with only weeks on independent police patrol. They and all the officers who went to the scene are incredibly upset over what has happened and all of us have this little girl and her family in our thoughts.
“I want to stress that this is not an end to the criminal investigation, we will consider the evidence and consult with the Crown Prosecution Service and if appropriate we will be seeking criminal charges.”
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Wesley Knights, said: “This was an extremely tragic incident in which a young girl was brutally attacked and sadly lost her life.
"Our thoughts remain with her family who are being supported by specialist officers at this incredibly distressing time.
“I would like to commend the bravery of the member of public who detained the woman until police arrived at the scene and arrested her.
"Although we have a woman in custody, our investigation is very much ongoing.”
Around ten police cars flocked to the scene and the North West Air Ambulance attended the park as medics desperately tried to the save the girl’s life.
Eyewitnesses said they saw the victim being given CPR as two adults stood "covered in blood" nearby.
Anyone with any information is urged to contact police on 0161 856 8797 or 101 quoting incident number 1430 of the 22/03/20. Witnesses can also email firstname.lastname@example.org and upload any footage or images to email@example.com.
Reports can also be made anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.