The devastated family members of two teenage boys killed in a horrifying double-stabbing have told how their “lives will never be the same” – as police announced two more arrests.
Football fan Mason Rist, 15, and “kind soul” Max Dixon, 16, were stabbed in Bristol on Saturday night by a group of attackers who are said to have fled in a car.
A resident who was first on the scene after the brutal attack told how Mason had begged her for help as he lay fatally injured in her former partner’s arms. Kirsty Kidd told The Independent: “We tried everything, I just wanted them to be ok.”
She added: “It could have been anyone including my own children, that’s the scary part.”
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Avon and Somerset Police have launched a murder investigation following the killings in the Knowle West area of the city. A 44-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy were arrested shortly after the incident and remain in police custody. Detectives announced on Monday they have arrested two more men aged 20 and 22, as they revealed they are exploring possible motives – including whether or not the teens were the intended target of the attack.
Mason’s devastated grandmother visited the scene of the stabbing, where flowers, cards and candles have been left for the teenagers
Gail Iles revealed the youngster was a devoted Liverpool fan who tragically lost his father Shayne Rist to Covid. She said it would be nice if the club sent a representative in tribute to the boy, adding: “It is so tragic.”
In a tribute shared on Facebook, a woman believed to be Max’s mother told how her life had been ripped apart by the tragedy.
“Devastated, our lives will never be the same without you my boy,” Leanne Ekland posted, alongside a picture of the smiling teenager.
Max’s heartbroken sister Kayleigh also posted an emotional tribute on Facebook on Sunday, which said: “My baby brother… one of a kind you are.
“You sleep tight. A beautiful, kind soul gone. Just taken 16 years so young and innocent oh my heart is broken.
“I really hope you know how much we love you. How much I love you. You will be missed kiddo I’ll always look out for you in every sunset, shine bright lil’ bro.”
A mother, who did not want to be named, said she knew both Mason and Max through her daughter who had attended Knowle Park Primary School with them.
She said they were “lovely kids” and that the community had been left devastated by the news of their deaths.
“People are scared to be outside today,” she told The Independent. “It is complete shock. How can two kids be attacked like this in the place where they live?”
Ms Kidd, 30, was first on the scene with her former partner Scott Lovell, 31, following the stabbing outside their home at around 11.20pm on Saturday.
“I was sleeping in the front room and I heard a massive noise outside. I looked out and I saw the person [Mason] being stabbed,” she said.
“My ex-partner went to him and his first leg gave way and then both this legs gave way and he fell into Scott’s arms. He said, ‘help me’.
“I then came out with a pillow and put his head on it before police arrived. When they took him away I was so scared for him as I saw his injuries. And when they later told me he had died I was devastated.”
Ms Kidd revealed she had received a message of thanks from Max’s sister Kayleigh, adding: “We tried everything, I just wanted them to be ok.”
The mother-of-five said her eldest child – aged nine – had come in the house just a few minutes before the incident.
Charlie Hicks, 21, lives next to where Mason collapsed to the ground. He told The Independent: “I found out from the sound of the police and ambulance outside. I was going to bed. I looked outside the window and I saw him [Mason] on the floor with people around him.
“They [Max and Mason] are both innocent kids. They are nice, Max loved his football and played for Park Knowle FC. It’s just so tragic this can happen, everyone is in shock.”
Police said the victims sustained stab wounds and were taken by ambulance to two hospitals – Southmead Hospital and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children – where they died in the early hours of Sunday.
At a packed meeting of 150 residents on Monday, concerns were raised over escalating violence in post-code wars between the Knowle West and Hartcliffe areas of south Bristol – amid fears the teens were “caught in the crossfire” of the turf wars.
Afterwards, Andy Pearce, 73, said: “I think they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – that’s the tragic thing about all of this, it could have happened to anyone’s children. I don’t think they were targeted, they were attacked because they were living here.
“There was a rivalry between the areas [Knowle West and Hartcliffe] in the Seventies but nothing like this. It’s got worse over the past few years.”
Molly Morgan, 20, who lives on Ilminster Avenue, heard the sirens following the attack before walking up to find the area on her road cordoned off. She said: “It’s quite scary to think this could happen to anyone here.”
A vigil was held near the scene of the attack on Sunday, where people lit candles and placed flowers for the victims.
Tributes include flowers with messages reading “Mason and Max Rest in peace”, a sign saying “Stop knife crime RIP boys” and a note from the school Oasis Academy John Williams reading: “In loving memory of Mason and Max, gone but never forgotten”.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe fundraising page has been launched to “give these two little boys the send off they deserve”.
Football coach Scott Alden wrote a tribute to Max on Facebook saying: “I had the pleasure of knowing you and coaching you since you were a young boy, you were the cheekiest, happy, funniest boy a very talented footballer who loved his family and friends.
“I’m so sorry this happened to you, the world is a cruel and dangerous place now.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said tackling knife crime requires a “laser focus” as he called for the nation to “roll up our sleeves” and take action.
Responding to news of the latest tragedy during a visit to Warrington, he told broadcasters: “This is devastating for the family and friends of these two youngsters. I have teenage children myself. I cannot even imagine what it’s like for the family and friends.”
He added: “We can’t carry on with these awful stories of knife crime. We have to roll up our sleeves and do something about it.”
Detectives said they were trying to establish “what possible motives could sit behind such an appalling crime,” with over 100 officers working around the clock and more arrests expected. They do not believe the incident is “rooted in a gang war”.
Bristol Police Commander Superintendent Mark Runacres said: “It is with great sadness that we confirm the names of the two young boys, Mason Rist and Max Dixon, who died following the incident on Saturday night.
“Any death is awful, but the loss of Mason and Max, who had their whole lives in front of them, is particularly tragic and my heart breaks for the families who have to endure such unimaginable pain and suffering. Our thoughts remain with them during this time.
“Our investigation is progressing well, with four people arrested so far and more arrests are to come. We are committed to doing everything we can to hold to account those responsible for this horrendous crime and to provide answers to Max’s and Mason’s families.”