The mother of a murdered British schoolboy on Monday appealed to her son’s killer to turn himself in and said her family would leave their Liverpool home to protect their other son.
Melanie Jones, whose 11-year-old son Rhys was shot in the neck Wednesday as he returned from a game of soccer, asked the killer to come forward.
“You are not going to be able to live with yourself, it’s going to be on your conscience for the rest of your life,” she said in an interview at a Liverpool police station.
Ten people, many of them teens, have been arrested in connection with Rhys’ death since Thursday, although all have been released on bail or freed without charge.
Police say Rhys might have been the unintended victim of gang warfare in his home city of Liverpool in northwest England.
Two gangs operate in the area around the boy’s home on the city’s east side, with dozens of members ranging in age from 16 to 50, police said.
The boy’s death has shocked Britain, where gun crime is relatively rare. A string of high profile shootings and stabbings involving children has raised concerns about guns and gang violence in the country.
Family to leave town
On Monday, players from Rhys’s favorite soccer team, Everton, visited the spot where he was shot, adding soccer cleats and jerseys to a long line of floral tributes.
The code of silence, which police say surrounds such crimes, has come under particular scrutiny, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, U.S. civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson and a host of community leaders have urged those with information to ignore the usual pressure to keep quiet about gang crime.
In an emotional interview, Rhys’ mother said the killing had opened her eyes to the dangers posed by gangs in her neighborhood, and that she would leave her home to protect her elder son Owen.
“I am going to leave. I can’t live on there any more. I’ve got to move somewhere else,” she said. “We have got another son.”