A 35-year-old man charged with the murder of a teenage boy in Birmingham has been remanded in custody today after appearing before magistrates.
Dea-John Reid, 14, was stabbed to death in a street in Kingstanding on Monday night in an attack which saw six people arrested earlier this week.
Witnesses said they heard a ‘gang of white boys’ scream ‘we know what you look like ‘n*****’ moments before the knife attack.
Detectives revealed last night that they are investigating claims that racist language was used in a ‘precursor incident’.
Michael Shields, from Alvis Walk in Castle Bromwich, appeared at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court this morning charged with murder.
He was not required to enter any pleas and was remanded in custody until Friday when he will appear at the city’s crown court.
A 38-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy remain in custody for questioning today, while two men, aged 36 and 33, and a 13-year-old boy have been released with no further action.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Mobberley said: ‘This is a significant step forward in our investigation, but we are still pursuing all lines of enquiry to find anyone else involved in Dea-John’s tragic death.
‘We are looking at all the circumstances which led up to the events of Monday evening and anyone who has information should contact us.’
In a tribute last night, Dea-John’s family described him as an ‘incredibly talented young boy’
A police tent at the scene of the attack, which shocked the community earlier this week
Police have launched a murder investigation after a 14-year-old boy was stabbed to death in the street during a large street fight. Pictured: Police at the scene on Monday afternoon
In a tribute last night, Dea-John’s family described him as an ‘incredibly talented young boy’.
They added: ‘We’d like to thank the emergency services for their diligence and support…and the public for their outpouring of love and support throughout this tragic and challenging time.
‘This loss not only affects us but everyone Dea-John knew, we have lost a son, his siblings have lost a brother and others have lost a friend.
‘The passing of this incredibly talented young boy will be felt by us all. How many more mothers will have to mourn for their sons for this to stop?’
Dea-John was reportedly chased by a gang towards a McDonald’s drive-thru before being fatally stabbed in the chest.
A source told MailOnline that one of the attackers was heard shouting: ‘I know what you look like, you n*****’ during the stabbing.
Community activist Desmond Jaddoo added: ‘We have heard there were racial slurs being hurled by the people who were chasing him but the police are dismissing that.’
Meanwhile, West Midlands Police referred itself to the police watchdog after U-turning on its earlier remarks that there was ‘nothing to suggest’ Dea-John’s killing was racially motivated.
The force said on Tuesday it was aware there had been ‘speculation in the community’ about racist language.
But they claimed there was ‘nothing to suggest’ racism was a motive behind the stabbing, which saw six people – including two young teenagers – arrested.
Now though, detectives say they are investigating claims racist language was used in the build up to the attack.
A forensics officer at the scene on College Road, Kingstanding, north of Birmingham, where a 14-year-old boy died after being stabbed on Monday evening
West Midlands Police has referred itself to the police watchdog, after a latest U-turn in which it claimed the murder of a 14-year-old boy in the street could have been racially motivated
DCI Mobberley said last night: ‘New information is coming into the enquiry all the time and being assessed.
‘As the investigation has progressed we now believe there was an incident involving Dea-John and his friends shortly before the murder. That quickly escalated, resulting in Dea-John’s tragic death.
‘During this precursor incident racist language was directed at Dea-John and his friends; that’s now being investigated.
‘We’re still appealing for witnesses, anyone who saw or heard anything that could help our investigation, to get in touch so we can build up a clear picture of what happened.’
The force has voluntarily referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after ‘looking at previous incidents involving the victim’.
It was also claimed earlier this week that Dea-John had previously been targeted by a gang at his school with his family due to meet police before he was fatally attacked.
He is believed to have been playing football with friends when he was jumped by yobs as he made his way home.
The teenager was pronounced dead in the street from knife wounds despite the efforts of paramedics.
One mother, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘It was carnage when I looked out my window, there were kids everywhere.
‘They were like a pack of feral animals the way they were swarming around him.
‘Apparently a gang of lads just jumped him, I don’t know how many had knives but it is just terrifying. He was only a child.’
DCI Mobberley initially said the force was aware there had been ‘speculation in the community’ but ruled out that this was a racially motivated attack, before later insisting police chiefs were keeping ‘an open mind’.
Police said a post-mortem examination confirmed the youngster died from a stab wound to the chest.