BOYS aged 14, 15 and 17, and a man aged 19, have been arrested as part of a murder investigation into the death of a 20-year-old man in a busy Romford shopping centre.
Police were yesterday called to the Brewery Shopping Centre on Waterloo Road at around 4.35pm by the London Ambulance Service during one of the centre’s busiest times.
The victim was found in the car park at the end of the shopping centre next to the cinema and restaurants suffering a stab wound. He was taken to an East London hospital where he died at around 5.30pm.
A short while after the incident the four teenagers were arrested not far from the scene on suspicion of murder. They were taken into custody at separate East London police stations. No one was allowed into the centre while police attended, but cordons had been removed by Friday morning and the all areas of the centre were open as usual.
Detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command are continuing to investigate, and officers are reviewing CCTV and carrying out local enquiries. Officers believe they know who the deceased is, but await a formal identification. A post-mortem examination is being held today.
Next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specially trained liaison officers.
Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner said: “This incident happened at a busy time of day, in a busy area of Romford, so we believe there are a large number of potential witnesses who we are keen to speak to.
“The victim was stabbed near to the entrance of the shopping centre, after an altercation with four other teenagers. He collapsed nearby and sadly died in hospital.”
Workers in the shopping centre have expressed their shock at the incident.
An attendant said: “It’s shocking because at that time there are quite a few people around. There’s the cinema and the restaurants which are starting to get busy at that time of day.”
And a worker at the centre’s Vue cinema added: “Unfortunately it’s just another day in Romford. Only more security and police can stop these kinds of incidents.”
Shoppers have echoed the feeling that a stronger police presence is needed to restore safety to Romford.
Ann Joyce, 64, said: “I don’t come here in the evening now, but I think that’s a generational thing. It’s nothing like the safe place I grew up in 50 years ago. It changed when my son was growing up in the late 80s. He would get beaten up and knocked over the head with bottles back then and the area has not changed much since those days.”
Another man from Collier Row, who asked not to be named, said: “It seems like nowhere you go in Romford is safe. I rarely go out in the evening, but now even in the day this is happening. Police just need to do something about knife crime now.”
Any witnesses, or anyone with any information, can contact the incident room on 020 8358 0200, or by tweeting @MetCC
To give information anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org