A teenage girl who was stabbed to death outside a bus on her way to school has been named as Eliyanna Andam.
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 on Wednesday.
The teenagers killed in London in 2023
Witnesses have said the girl, who attended the Old Palace of John Whitgift School, and her attacker were not in a relationship but they are believed to have been known to each other.
Eliyanna was pronounced dead at the scene at around 9.20am, while the suspect, who was held in nearby New Addington, remains in custody.
Police have been given an extra 24 hours, until Friday morning, to question him.
Tributes have poured in for Eliyanna, with dozens of bunches of flowers, cards and candles left at the scene, while a large police cordon remains in place.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I have spent the morning in Croydon meeting local residents, youth workers, community leaders, police officers and others.
“That is a community shocked, traumatised and heartbroken. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say our thoughts are with her family and friends.”
Adama Dumbuya, 30, a family friend of the girl, said: “It’s just really sad. She was such a lovely little girl. I’m a parent myself.
“She was just really lovely the few times I’ve met her. She’s just a very nice girl and very polite.”
Anthony King, chairman of My Ends – a project helping combat youth violence in Croydon – said the boy had been known to local community groups for the past couple of years.
Mr King was with the girl’s family after the incident and said they were “heartbroken”.
He added: “She had a bright future ahead of her. She was in her GCSE year.”
Mr King described the girl as an “absolutely incredible young lady” and told of how others said she was “jovial, very comedic”.
One of the cards, left near the site of the attack, 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.”
Another said: “Rest in peace little princess. So sad your life is taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul.”
Emergency services were called to Wellesley Road at around 8.30am but the girl was pronounced dead at the scene 50 minutes later.
‘The blood was coming like water’
A bus driver and a passer-by were seen desperately trying to save the girl before emergency services arrived, with police at the scene within two minutes.
Victor Asare, 50, told how he saw a boy stab the girl in the neck with a knife which was “black, thin and about a foot long”.
“The boy wore a black blazer, the girl wore green. It looked like the girl didn’t want the boy to come closer,” said the security worker. “The blood was coming like water.”
He said the boy ran away and “everybody was crying and screaming”, adding: “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.”
A mother of two, who wanted to be named only as Bridget, said: “I was on the bus before and came off and walked back down, I saw them resuscitating her.
“The driver was holding her, and a lady. The emergency services were already here when I walked back.”
She said two other schoolgirls, believed to be the victim’s friends, were trying to get through the police cordon but were held back.
Girl’s family ‘devastated’
James Watkins, from Mainz World, which runs prevention and intervention projects for children and young people, said he was supporting the girl’s “devastated” family, who arrived on the scene between 9am and 10am.
“The last thing you expect when your child’s leaving to go to school is to get a phone call an hour or so later to say that they have passed away,” he told Sky.
“A lot of people are trying to come to terms with it and understand what really happened.”
The Old Palace of John Whitgift School has said in a statement: “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.”