A 14-year-old stabbed to death in the street has today been described by family as an ‘incredibly talented young boy’.
Teenager Dea-John Reid, 14, was reportedly chased by a gang before being fatally stabbed in the chest during the incident in Kingstanding near Birmingham.
The tributes come as today murder detectives revealed they are investigating claims that racist language was used in a ‘precursor incident’ moments before the stabbing.
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 yesterday 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 stabbing.
Detective Chief Inspector Stu Mobberley from West Midlands Police’s Homicide Unit said: ‘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’.
In a tribute this evening, Dea-John’s family described him as an ‘incredibly talented young boy’
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
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
Dea-John was killed after being chased by a group towards a McDonald’s drive-thru, according to the Mirror.
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 today: ‘We have heard there were racial slurs being hurled by the people who were chasing him but the police are dismissing that.’
In a tribute this evening, 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?’
Police said yesterday that two boys, aged 13 and 14, were among those arrested following the death of the teenager in the Kingstanding area on Monday evening.
The 13-year-old was detained in the Walsall area today, say police, while the 14-year-old was arrested along with a 38-year-old man in a vehicle in Cheshire.
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
The force said yesterday it was aware there had been ‘speculation in the community’ but claimed there was ‘nothing to suggest’ racism as a motive behind the stabbing in Birmingham, which saw six people – including two young teenagers – arrested
Two men, aged 36 and 35, surrendered to separate police stations in the West Midlands, police say.
A 33-year-old man was also arrested in the Kingstanding area earlier today, according to West Midlands Police. All six suspects remain in custody.
Witnesses claimed yesterday a ‘gang of white lads’ killed the boy like a ‘pack of feral animals’.
Detective Chief Inspector Stu Mobberley, leading the investigation, said: ‘We’ve made rapid progress on the investigation so far and these arrests are a significant step forward.
‘Our officers have executed a series of warrants in the region and we’ve worked with police forces outside the area to apprehend suspects.
‘We’re still speaking to witnesses and really need to hear from anyone who has seen or heard something, even if they think we may already know or they’re not sure how important it is.
‘We are aware of many different rumours circulating about the motive for the murder but we are keeping an open mind and pursuing all lines of enquiry. We ask people not to speculate on social media.’
The force said a post-mortem examination confirmed the youngster died from a stab wound to the chest.
Emergency services rushed to the scene near to the McDonald’s on College Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham, at around 7.30pm on Monday in the aftermath of a large street fight.
It is thought that the schoolboy, who has not been identified, had previously been targeted by a gang at his school with his family due to meet police before he was fatally attacked.
Now, though, detectives insist they are ‘keeping an open mind’, and have voluntarily referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after ‘looking at previous incidents involving the victim’
Police said yesterday that two boys, aged 13 and 14, were among those arrested following the death of the teenager in the Kingstanding area on Monday evening
It comes as witnesses claimed a ‘gang of white lads’ killed the 14-year-old boy, who witnesses say was black, like a ‘pack of feral animals’
A police officer stands near the scene of the teenager’s suspected murder on College Road, Kingstanding
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.’
Detective Chief Inspector Stu Mobberley, who is leading the investigation, initially said yesterday 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’.
Mr Jaddoo said: ‘I was here last night with the boy’s mother and friends who had gathered and they were naturally inconsolable.
‘She has lost her 14-year-old boy who had his whole life ahead of him and will never return home.
‘There are questions being asked of the police and an incident which happened last week at school.
‘I can’t say any more than that but there are major concerns about how that was handled.
‘If this does reveal itself to be a racially motivated crime, West Midlands Police need to treat it with the utmost seriousness.
‘Tensions are already high in the community.’
Other residents living near the scene reacted with horror to the brutal stabbing on their doorstep.
One, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘I didn’t see what happened but I’m told a car pulled up at some point and loads of blokes jumped out.
‘There was absolutely loads of people around in the aftermath. I just saw people running in all different directions.
‘If it’s racially motivated, it’s like the Stephen Lawrence thing. It wouldn’t surprise me around here.
‘I’ve been in tears for his family, he was just 14-years-old, his life had not even begun.’
The death of the schoolboy has prompted an angry response in the city with many calling for stricter knife crime laws following the tragedy.
One social media user wrote: ‘That poor boy! He is just a child… I hate the thought of his final moments. Thoughts with the family! Such a tragedy.’
Another added: ‘RIP yet again another young person has been taken from his family. What is this country coming to? No one deserves this, I hope the people who have done this get caught and have the book thrown at them. Name and shame them.’
‘Absolutely terrible news 14 is no age. I have a child almost this age, breaks your heart our kids are growing up in such a messed up world. RIP little man thoughts are with his family and friends at such a sad time’, a third commented.
Another said: ‘Evil scumbags. RIP to the poor soul and heartfelt condolences to the family who now have to deal with this utter heartbreak.’
Emergency services rushed to the scene near to a McDonald’s on College Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham, at around 7.30pm on Monday evening. Pictured: Police at the scene
Police have since said that a group of up to seven people ran off in the direction of Chester Road.
The force said they had immediately launched a murder investigation and flooded the area with officers in a search for those responsible.
Officers are also speaking to witnesses and fast-tracking CCTV enquiries.
Officers have also been supporting the boy’s family, after what police earlier called a ‘shocking and senseless tragedy’.
Detectives vowed to leave no stone unturned in their hunt for the ‘callous individuals responsible – or for anyone harbouring them, knowing what they’ve done’.
Labour MP Jack Dromey, whose Erdington constituency includes the area where the stabbing happened, said: ‘Truly shocking that a 14-year-old teenage boy in Kingstanding was stabbed to death this evening.
‘Anyone with any information should contact West Midlands Police. My condolences to his family.’
Anyone with information is asked to contact police via Live Chat via their website or by calling 101 quoting log number 3313 of 31/5.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.