The leafy suburb of Horsforth has been left in mourning after the death of one of its residents, 15-year-old Alfie Lewis.
The Leeds teenager was stabbed as children were leaving two nearby schools on Tuesday afternoon. He died of his injuries in hospital later that day.
Alfie’s family issued a statement on Wednesday paying tribute to ‘Uncle Alfie’:
“I haven’t got the words to describe how devastated we all are.
“Alfie you were one in a million, so funny and an all-round entertainer with your rapping and dancing feet.
“You had the biggest heart and took care of everybody around you. You will never know just how much you are loved by family and friends, and you will always be our uncle Alfie.
“We love you so much. Nothing will ever be the same without you. You will shine in the sky, as bright as you did in all our lives. I love you more than words can say, and you will always be with us forever.”
A governor at nearby St Margaret’s Church of England Primary School, Mr Nigel Sinclair, commended staff for commencing lockdown procedures immediately, ensuring young children were able to exit through back doors with their parents.
Mr Sinclair who is also a Vicar at St Margaret’s Church opened the doors of his church for reflection, remembrance and messages shortly after the news emerged.
“This is a very close community,” he told The Independent. “It’s not the kind of place where something like this would happen. It shows it can happen anywhere. The family are understandably in shock.”
A graffiti wall and memory book were left at the altar and dozens of candles were lit in memory of Alfie.
“There were children crying,” said one shop owner about the aftermath of the scene. “I think it was one of the kids near Alfie. He was crying and saying ‘I know who did it’”. He says an air ambulance, police and other emergency services were on the scene within minutes.
“This is a very middle-class area,” he continued. “There is a lot of cash here, let’s just say. It’s really the last place something like this could happen. It’s why we moved here.”
Another local said the town had affectionately been termed the “gin and jag belt” after its reputation for affluence.
Friends and family gathered on Wednesday to launch balloons in memory of Alfie, with many holding inflated number ones and fives in tribute to the young age at which the school pupil’s life was taken.
A Chinese lantern was lit and released, alongside fireworks.
A memorial on Broadgate Lane was constructed where Alfie was known to spend many hours with his friends. Bottles of Ribena, his favourite drink, and a fish and chips box left by his brother decorated the scene.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Stacey Atkinson said: “Alfie’s family are absolutely devastated about his death in such sudden and violent circumstances, and we are doing everything we can to support them and get them the answers they need.
“They have asked that their privacy is respected so that they can begin to grieve at what is clearly a very difficult and painful time for them.
“We fully appreciate that the murder of a child in these circumstances will cause concern in the community, and we are aware of various discussions and comments on social media.
“We would ask that people avoid unhelpful and often inaccurate speculation on social media which has the potential to cause unnecessary distress to the family and create issues that divert and distract the police response to this terrible incident.
“We are still working to build up a clear picture of the circumstances surrounding Alfie’s murder and we ask people to leave it to the investigation to find out what led to Alfie’s tragic death.
“The exception to this is we would of course still like to hear from anyone who witnessed any part of this incident, which took place in a busy part of Horsforth, or who has any information that could assist the investigation.”
Alfie died shortly after sustaining fatal injuries in the incident which took place at the junction of Church Lane and Church Road in Horsforth.
A 14-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of murder shortly afterwards and he remains in custody.
A 16-year-old boy was also arrested on suspicion of murder yesterday evening but has now been released without charge.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team via 101 quoting Operation Poplincard or reference 13230618644 or online via www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat.