Three people have been arrested after a “happy” and “really nice” teenager was stabbed to death.
Fares Maatou was fatally knifed in broad daylight outside a pizza restaurant in Canning Town, east London, in his school uniform on Friday afternoon.
Today the Metropolitan Police announced that three people were arrested yesterday.
They are a 14-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy arrested on suspicion of murder, and a 15-year-old boy arrested in connection with the incident.
Fares is the eleventh and youngest teenager to be stabbed to death in the capital this year.
A friend of his family said they did not know if the boy’s dad is aware that his son has been killed as he is “critically ill” with Covid-19.
He is being treated in the intensive care unit of a London hospital after being diagnosed with the virus.
The friend, who asked not to be named, said: “This is a terrible tragedy. The family have been through so much.
“We didn’t know if his dad was going to pull through after falling terribly ill with Covid. He’s still critically ill and under intensive care, and now they have lost their youngest son.
“The family live in the Custom House area of east London. Fares has an older brother and two sisters.
“Fares was blind in one eye following an incident when he was a young child.”
Several teenage boys turned up to lay flowers at the scene outside Zetta’s pizza shop on Barking Road on Saturday morning with tears in their eyes.
A close friend of the 14-year-old has remembered him as a “really nice” person who “loved life”.
The tearful 15-year-old, accompanied by her mother, who both did not want to be named, came to join others paying tribute to Fares.
She said: “He was really nice. He had nothing to do with the gang stuff around here.
“He would just be there for you. If you ever needed him he would be there.”
She added: “He was happy. He loved life.”
Her mother, 33, from Stratford, said her daughter had been left “heartbroken”.
“She hasn’t stopped crying since she found out.”
She said her daughter and Fares had been friends since nursery and described the boy as a “lovely kid” and a “normal teenager”.
“I’m heartbroken seeing her upset. I can’t imagine what his parents are going through,” the mother added.
A restaurant worker described the desperate attempts of bystanders to resuscitate the teenager.
The member of staff at Zzetta Soul Fired Pizza, who did not want to be named, witnessed the aftermath of the attack while at work.
He said a FedEx worker, an off-duty police officer and a woman had all rushed to the teenager’s aid as he lay in the street outside the restaurant.
“They were just shouting at him ‘wake up, wake up, try to breath’,” he said, adding that someone started chest compressions while he called 999.
“Three or four of us were all shouting loudly ‘one, two, three’, so there was a rhythm for compression.”
He said the victim, wearing a school uniform, was “totally blacked out”.
“I was hoping he would end up in hospital and stay alive,” the witness added.
The restaurant worker said he witnessed the victim’s sister “almost collapse” when she learnt of her brother’s death.
He said it was “really bad” when Fares’ family arrived at the scene of his fatal stabbing.
“I haven’t seen anything like this,” he said, adding that the family were “expressing their grief” and “crying”.
He added: “When the doctor announced him dead he broke the news to his sister and she almost collapsed.
“Looking at the family bonding I think he was a really loved one.”
The Metropolitan Police believe Fares was attacked with a large blade.
A post-mortem examination of his body is yet to be arranged.
DCI Perry Benton, Specialist Crime, said: “Fares’s family are, of course, absolutely devastated. I have assured them of my total commitment to bringing to justice those responsible for this senseless killing.
“They will be supported by specialist officers at every stage of what will be a terrible ordeal for them in the weeks, months and years ahead.
“We have already seen fantastic support and received a good deal of information from local people.
“I thank them for that, and ask anyone with information or any witnesses who have yet to speak with police to please come forward and tell officers what they know.
“We are piecing together the picture of what happened on Friday afternoon, and every fragment of that picture will be crucial.
“Three boys have been arrested and they remain in police custody. This is a fast-moving investigation and there will be further developments.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident is urged to call 101 or tweet @MetCC, providing the reference CAD 5134/23Apr.
To remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.