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‘He was not in a gang’: lives and deaths of 30 London teenage homicide victims | Knife crime

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London has recorded its highest ever level of teenage homicides in a single year after two boys were killed on Thursday.

A 15-year-old was stabbed to death in a park in Croydon on Thursday night, while a 16-year-old died after being stabbed in Hillingdon.

The killings were the 29th and 30th teenage homicides in London in 2021, surpassing the previous peak of 29 in 2008. Most of those who died were victims of knife crime and many were killed by other teenagers or by those in their early 20s. The youngest victim was 14 years old.

Here is a list of the 30 victims and what we know about their lives and how they died.

Anas Mezenner, 17, Haringey, north London, 19 January

Anas Mezenner. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Anas, 17, was found with stab wounds in West Green Road shortly after 9pm on 19 January. He was taken to hospital but died at 4.25am. A 17-year-old boy was found guilty of his murder after a trial at the Old Bailey in August, and two other teenagers were found guilty of his manslaughter.

Anas, who was studying at a City and Islington College and was described as “quietly talented” and “creative”, had made an anti-knife crime video for a media studies course weeks before he died. His brother said: “Anas was never, never about this knife crime stupidity. He always kept himself humble, he was always kind and always put others first.”

Romario Opia, 15, Islington, north London, 25 January
Romario was found stabbed in Holland Walk at about 5.30pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene a short while later. His mum is said to have dashed to the scene when she heard her son had been attacked. More than 100 people attended a vigil in his honour on 2 February where he fell.

His sister wrote an emotional tribute to Romario when she launched a crowdfunding appeal to help the family cover the funeral and burial costs, describing him as “funny, loving [and] amazing”. She continued: “Everywhere he went he made a big impact on everyone and all his friends and family love and miss him so much. Everyone who knew Romario knows he had a big smile and an enthusiasm for life. He made everyone laugh, he was happy and confident and had a big heart.”

Hani Solomon, 18, Fulham, west London, 11 February

Hani SolomonHani Solomon. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Solomon was killed during a fight between two groups of men shortly after 6.30pm in Ackmar Road. He was treated by police, paramedics and an air ambulance team but was pronounced dead at the scene less than an hour later. Two people have been charged with his murder.

Solomon, who was from Wandsworth in south London, was described as “one of the nicest boys around, always positive, always smiling” by one of his friends, Noah. Another friend, Tyrell Logan, said: “He was a friend you could always count on … If you can’t afford something, he’s there for you. If you can’t do something, he’ll do it for you – that’s how he works, that was his moral in life.”

Drekwon Patterson, 16, Wembley, north-west London, 18 February

Drekwon PattersonDrekwon Patterson. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Drekwon was stabbed just yards from Preston Road underground station in Brent, shortly after 11.30pm. He was taken to hospital but died the following morning. Five people were arrested in early morning raids by officers in April, but no one has been charged.

Drekwon, who was a pupil at Harrow college, was killed months after his parents had relocated for safety after an attack in November. His friend Ty told the Daily Mail: “Drekwon was not affiliated to any gang, I can promise you that. He was very funny and a proper entertainer. He loved making us laugh. He was very street smart and I’m going to miss him a lot.”

Ahmed Beker, 19, Paddington Green, west London, 26 February

Ahmed BekerAhmed Beker. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Beker was attacked just after 9.10pm and was treated by paramedics and an air ambulance team but died at the scene. Two teenagers, both aged 18, have been charged with murder. His cousin Josiph Beker was stabbed to death in Edgware in 2019.

James Beker, Ahmed’s uncle and Josiph’s father, told MyLondon that his nephew was humble, kind and quiet and said the family was devastated by his death. He continued: “We will never be healed from it … We are not in the war. How can they do this? How can they carry a knife to kill people?”

Tai Jordan O’Donnell, 19, Croydon, south London, 3 March

Tai Jordan O’DonnellTai Jordan O’Donnell. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

O’Donnell was stabbed a number of times in the legs at a house in Alpha Road just after 12.10pm. He was pronounced dead within minutes of emergency crews arriving at the scene. A 22-year-old man has been charged with his murder.

In a statement released online, his mother, Stacey O’Donnell, said: “He was one in a million; a loving, kind, beautiful human being and we as family couldn’t be prouder of the man he was growing into.” His friends organised several memorials to celebrate his life after he died. One of his friends, Dwaine, from Croydon, said: “I met him at college about three years ago, and everyone who knew him thought he was a good person: kind, polite, respectful.”

Mazaza Owusu-Mensah, 18, Abbey Wood, south-east London, 6 March

Mazaza Owusu-MensahMazaza Owusu-Mensah. Photograph: Met police

Owusu-Mensah died when he was stabbed in the chest during a fight in Edington Road at about 5.30pm. Paramedics tried to save him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. A 25-year-old man has been charged with murder and possession of an offensive weapon.

One tribute posted on Snapchat read: “RIP Maz. [We were] brothers. I’m gonna miss you, we’ll link up soon. Life feels so different I can’t take it in. We had big dreams bro, I’m gonna miss you lord knows it ain’t gonna be the same without you.”

Ezra Okobia, 14, Lewisham, south-east London, 6 March
Ezra was fatally injured by fumes from a fire at his home in Russett Way shortly before 6am. He was taken to hospital but died four days later. His five-year-old brother, Joseph Okobia, and mother, Victoria Amaning, 34, also died after inhaling fumes. Amaning “used petrol to start a fire” in her Greenwich home, before “locking herself and her sons in the bathroom”, killing herself and her two children in March this year, an inquest has heard.

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Little has been reported about Ezra’s life, but shortly after the fire took place, before it emerged how it started, one neighbour told the Sun: “The whole community is absolutely devastated by what has happened and we are all still in shock … Her two sons were her everything, all the children, including my own, all used to play together down here, we’re a very close community like that.”

Nikolay Vandev, 19, Tottenham, north London, 8 March
Vandev was stabbed along with a second victim, aged 18, in Penshurst Road shortly before 2pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene, while the 18-year-old was taken to hospital and treated for non life-threatening stab wounds. Two boys, aged 15 and 17, have been charged with murder.

Vandev was the fourth person to be killed in Tottenham in 2021, with the Metropolitan police increasing officer patrols after the killing. DCS Treena Fleming, who is responsible for policing in Haringey, said: “My deepest sympathies lie with the family and friends of those who have lost their lives in this tragic way. My top priority remains tackling violent crime in our community – as one person killed or injured is one person too many.”

Hussain Chaudhry, 18, Walthamstow, east London, 17 March

Hussain ChaudhryHussain Chaudhry. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Chaudhry was stabbed in Lea Bridge Road at about 5.20pm. Police and an ambulance crew attended but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Chaudhry was knifed in the neck as he and his family fought off a robber trying to steal a designer jacket outside their home. His brother and mother were also injured. Two people have been charged with his murder.

The first-year law student at Soas University died in his mum’s arms. His uncle Reiss Chaudhry said: “He was just trying to protect his mum. He was a good boy and such a lovely boy. His mum was badly cut across her hand and his brother was hurt too, and they are both still in surgery. He was stabbed in the neck and he died laying in his mother’s lap.”

Levi Ernest-Morrison, 17, Sydenham, south-east London, 10 April

Levi Ernest-MorrisonLevi Ernest-Morrison. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Levi, who was autistic, was killed in a machete and knife attack in Sydenham Road on the evening of 10 April. Tyreese Ulysses, 19, launched the attack after learning that Levi was “bothering” his mother, Nichola Leighton, by knocking on her door looking for him. Both Ulysses and Leighton were found guilty of Levi’s murder earlier this month.

His father, Christopher, described his son as “loved”, saying: “He had a simple way of touching people.” Meanwhile, his mother called him a “special boy” and said: “He was a beautiful boy with a beautiful heart. My son was autistic and disabled so it hurts more.”

Fares Maatou, 15, Newham, east London, 23 April

Newham stabbingFares Maatou. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Fares was found stabbed in Barking Road in what his family have described as an “unprovoked attack”. Emergency services tried to save him but he was pronounced dead just over half an hour later, still wearing his school uniform. Two boys, aged 14 and 15, have pleaded not guilty to his murder and will face trial next year.

A crowdfunding page set up by Fares’s family said he was a “kind and considerate child who stood up for what’s right”. The page also states that his father had been in a coma since January after being admitted into an intensive care unit with Covid-19 and woke up to find his son had been murdered. His friends also paid tribute and told PA: “If you ever needed him he would be there. He was happy. He loved life.”

Abubakkar ‘Junior’ Jah, 18, Newham, east London, 26 April

Abubakar JahAbubakar Jah Photograph: Met police

Jah was found in Coolfin Road, at about 3.45pm, having been shot and stabbed. He died at the scene. He was the brother of Ahmed Jah, who was stabbed to death just a few streets from the scene in April 2017. Police believe the killings may have been linked. Nobody has been charged with Jah’s murder.

His father, who had fled war-torn Sierra Leone to come to the UK in the 1990s, told the Daily Mail: “I don’t understand how somebody can be killed like that, right in front of their house. I’m not able to sleep. [Junior] was my friend. I saw some future in him and he held my hope, but now that’s vanished.”

Daniel Laskos, 16, Harold Wood, east London, 7 May

Daniel was fatally stabbed in the neck stabbed in Church Road at about 6.40pm after being confronted by a gang outside a shop. Ambulance and air ambulance teams tried to save him after the fight but he died at the scene. Six people have been charged with his murder.

His uncle John said Daniel’s family had come to London from the Czech Republic about a decade ago. He added: “He was a lovely boy. His mother is devastated. We have no idea why this happened.”

Taylor Cox, 19, Islington, north London, 8 June
Cox was shot in the head in Hornsey Rise Gardens at about 4.25pm. He later died in hospital. One person has been charged with murder. His father, David Campbell, said he had previously survived a stabbing in 2019.

Campbell, who moved the family to the outskirts of London after the first attack, told the Islington Gazette the stabbing crushed his son’s dreams of being a professional footballer. He said: “He became less confident after the stabbing and didn’t want to go certain places. If he went out he took a cab because he was scared for his life. In the last couple of weeks he seemed happier.”

Denardo Samuels-Brooks, 17, Streatham, south London, 10 June
Dernado was stabbed after he was chased along a busy high street in the mid-afternoon. He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead less than an hour later. Four people, all teenagers from Croydon, have been charged with murder.

The local MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the young man, stabbed to death on Streatham High Road this afternoon. Arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing in the area.”

Jalan Woods-Bell, 15, Hayes, west London, 11 June

Jalan Woods-Bell.Jalan Woods-Bell. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Jalan was stabbed in a fight at about 8.30am while on his way to school in Blyth Road. A 15-year-old boy has been charged with his murder.

“He [Jalan] was quite cheeky in a funny way and mischievous with that smile … he was just a really good character and wasn’t one to shy away,” his uncle told My London. He added that his nephew had a supportive family and group of school friends who were all in shock.

Tashawn Watt, 19, Sydenham, south-east London, 25 June

Tashawn WattTashawn Watt. Photograph: Met police

Watt was stabbed in Miall Walk just after 9.30pm. He was treated by an ambulance crew but died at the scene. He was just yards from his house when he was attacked and his mother and brother cradled him in the street as he died. A 19-year-old has been charged with his murder.

Tributes poured in after his death with the street lined with hundreds of flowers. Denise proudly told My London: “We called him ‘star boy’, because he was … He made me proud at parents’ evening because every teacher had the same thing to say about his potential.”

Camron Smith, 16, Shrublands, Croydon, south London, 1 July
Camron was found by paramedics having been stabbed inside his home in the early hours of 1 July. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police believe he was chased after answering the door to a group who then attacked him. Four teenagers, including a 15-year-old boy, have been charged with his murder.

Mourners gathered to lay flowers around the cordon after his murder. Devastated friends said Camron, known as LilCamz, was “never in a group or a gang”.

Tamim Ian Habimana, 15, Woolwich, south-east London, 5 July

Tamim Ian HabimanaTamim Ian Habimana. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Four teenagers were soon charged with his murder after Tamim was found stabbed. Footage of the killing was shared widely on social media.

Hawa Haragakiza, Tamin’s mother, spoke at a vigil in Woolwich after his death, promising to begin campaigning for an end to London’s knife-crime epidemic. She said: “My son was all about peace and where I’m coming from, I’m all about peace.”

Keane Flynn-Harling, 16, Lambeth, south London, 5 July

Keane Flynn-Harling.Keane Flynn-Harling. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Keane was stabbed in Oval Place at about 11.45pm. A 36-year-old has been charged with his murder and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

He was named after the former Tottenham Hotspur striker Robbie Keane by his Spurs-loving family. “I’m so sorry you’re gone. We love you so much, rest in perfect peace,” read one of the tributes left at the scene. Another said, “Love you with all my heart baby boy, we love you millions.”

Damarie Omare Roye, 16, Thornton Heath, south London, 9 July
The 16-year-old was stabbed in Bensham Manor Road and was taken to hospital but died two days later. Police believe he was attacked after a fight with two men on a moped. A 19-year-old has been charged with murder.

Damarie’s father, Dwayne Roye, made an emotional plea to end knife crime, saying: “I feel as if my heart has been ripped out. He was a kind, respectful boy.”

Stelios Averkiou, 16, Tottenham, north London, 1 August
Stelios was stabbed at a skate park in Lordship recreation ground at about 2.15pm. He was reportedly sitting on a park bench with friends when he was set upon. He died nine days later. Two boys, aged 16 and 17, have been charged with murder.

Stelios’s godmother Maria Stanforth created a fundraiser page to help raise money for his funeral. She wrote: “Our handsome and loving Stelios was taken from us all, far too soon. Heaven has gained an angel.”

Alex Ajanaku, 18, Leyton, east London, 1 September
Ajanaku was found in Beaumont Road with shotgun wounds at about 1.30am while attending an illegal rave. He was treated by police and paramedics but died at the scene. He is believed to have been sitting with a group of friends when the shooting occurred. A 43-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and later bailed.

The detective in charge of the investigation described the killing as a “senseless attack on a young man”.

Hazrat Wali, 18, Twickenham, 12 October

Hazrat Wali.Hazrat Wali. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Wali was stabbed to death in a playing field in front of schoolchildren. A 16-year-old boy has been charged with his murder.

He was a refugee from Afhganistan. He had moved to the UK two years earlier and was studying construction and building in the nearby Richmond upon Thames College. His friend Sahil Kochay told the Evening Standard: “He didn’t hold any hate towards anybody. He used to stand up for everyone.”

Kamran Khalid, 18, Ilford, east London, 28 October

Kamran Khalid.Kamran Khalid. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Khalid was stabbed 24 times in Harrow Road in the early hours of the morning on 28 October. He was reportedly on his way home from the gym when the attack took place. Two teenagers, the youngest just 15 years old, have been charged with murder.

Speaking to MyLondon, his mother, Samina Khalid, said losing him has “left a void in her heart forever”.

Jermaine Cools, 14, Croydon, 18 November

Jermaine Cools.Jermaine Cools. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Jermaine, the youngest victim, suffered stab wounds and died after a fight in London Road. He took himself to the nearby hospital, but died soon after from multiple stab wounds. A murder investigation was launched after the incident but no one has been arrested.

His father, Julius Cools, said he forgives his son’s killers, describing his son as “an angel”. DCI Richard Vandenbergh, from the Metropolitan police, is continuing to appeal for information over the murder, saying “at the very least, his parents are owed an explanation for why their son was killed”.

Rishmeet Singh, 16, Southall, 24 November

Rishmeet Singh.Rishmeet Singh. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

The Met was called to Raleigh Road just after 9pm after reports of a stabbing following a fight involving a group of people. Officers found 16-year-old Rishmeet with stab wounds. He died at the scene a short time later.

Friends of the 16-year-old told ITV News London he had never been involved in crime or violence. In a statement, the college that Rishmeet attended, said: “All of us at Uxbridge College are profoundly saddened to learn of the tragic loss, in such worrying circumstances, of this young man taking his first steps into adulthood.”

Unnamed boy, 15, Croydon, 30 December
Police were called to Ashburton Park shortly after 7pm. Officers found a 15-year-old boy with stab wounds who died at the scene a short time later.

Unnamed boy, 16, Hillingdon, west London, 30 December
Police were called to Philpot’s Farm Open Space in Yiewsley, and found a 16-year-old boy with a puncture wound. He was pronounced dead at 8.25pm and a murder investigation was launched, making him the 30th teenage homicide in London in 2021.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/dec/31/knife-rises-in-london-with-30-teen-homicides-in-2021