A 17-year-old girl has been shot dead in a “terrible” drive-by attack as she sat chatting with friends.
Teenager Tanesha Melbourne was gunned down in Chalgrove Road, Tottenham, north London, shortly before 9.30pm on Monday, apparently a tragic casualty of a gang war.
Her mother, who watched her daughter’s life slip away, laid flowers at the scene on Tuesday, with a card reading: “To my baby Nesha. I’m gonna miss you so much, you’re always gonna be with me everywhere I go.” It was signed “Love Mummy”.
In a separate flurry of violence, the Metropolitan Police said officers had launched a murder investigation after a 16-year-old died in hospital from his injuries in a shooting in Walthamstow - just miles away - also on Monday night.
It represents the 48th murder inquiry in the capital this year.
Schoolfriend Candice Hassan, 17, said Tanesha was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
“Everyone knows Tanesha, she’s just a humble girl. It was just the wrong place at the wrong time. She didn’t deserve any of that.”
Tanesha’s aunt, who did not give her name, said: “We’re going to stop the shooting, we’re going to stop these stabbings.
“It’s not good enough. We’re going to bring this whole area to a standstill. My niece has gone now and my sister’s in turmoil. It’s terrible.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Wood, head of Scotland Yard’s murder squad, told the Press Association investigators are keeping an open mind as to motive.
He said: “It was a terrible attack in which this young lady has lost her life. I’d like to appeal to anybody who was in the vicinity to contact the incident room or Crimestoppers who can assist the investigation.
“At this stage, we’re keeping a completely open mind, it’s too early to say what the motive is or indeed if it’s just a case of wrong place, wrong time.
“We do know that a vehicle drove past a group of young people, shots were fired from the vehicle and sadly the young lady lost her life.”
A woman who knew the murdered girl said the victim was “just chilling with her friends” when she was shot from a car for “no reason at all”.
“The car just pulled up and just started shooting,” said the 21-year-old, who did not want to be named. She said she heard the gunshots “like fireworks” from her house.
She told how the girl’s mother arrived before paramedics, adding: “She was screaming. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t deserve that. Her mum didn’t deserve to watch her die.”
The witness described the victim as a “good girl”, adding: “She was so lovely.”
Others suggested she had been a casualty of a gang feud. A friend of the murdered girl told the Press Association: “Tanesha was a very known, very lovable little girl in the community, she was not involved in any sort of problems with anyone.
“I can’t believe she’s gone. She was just an innocent child caught up in this stupid postcode war.”
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, told how he rushed to help the victim when her friends raised the alarm. “This is not the first time. This is a war,” he added.
Tottenham-raised rapper Wretch32, whose real name is Jermaine Scott Sinclair, was among those to pay tribute, tweeting: “Wish I knew what to say about what’s happening in my ends. North London we’re better then this man smh R.I.P to the young angel who lost her life last night. love & prayers to the family. I’m honestly lost for words.”
So far there is no evidence of a link to the Tottenham murder, but it will be one line of inquiry to rule it out.
Before the death in Walthamstow was confirmed, the Metropolitan Police had launched 47 murder inquiries, eight in January, 15 in February, 22 in March and two in April.
The March figure marked a new high, the two previous peaks were in April 2010 when there were 16 murders, and June 2017 when there were 19.
In the whole of last year, there were 130 murders in London. The number of killings reached a peak around June before dropping again in the second half of the year.
Wood added: “The Commissioner has been clear we’re going to bear down on violence in all its forms. We’ve got officers out there working hard day in, day out trying to stem the tide of violence.
“Clearly there have been a number of incidents and there is no avoiding that. Of course I never forget that behind these incidents is the family and friends and the human aspect of it. Having dealt with a number of bereaved families I’m alive to the impact it has on people when these terrible incidents happen.”
In the coming weeks, the Home Office will publish a serious violence strategy, which it says will place a “new emphasis” on steering young people away from crime.
Proposed measures include a tightening of rules covering online sales of knives. The Government has also said it is “determined” to maintain the UK’s gun laws.