A nine-year-old girl was shot dead after a masked gunman firing “with complete disregard” burst into her Liverpool home chasing a second man.
The young victim, named by Merseyside Police as Olivia Pratt-Korbel, was killed by a bullet that also struck her mother as she fought to keep the intruders out of their house in the Knotty Ash area of the city on Monday night.
The gunman then fled on foot before the 35-year-old man he was pursuing was collected by friends and driven to hospital while Olivia lay dying. The car has since been seized by officers, police confirmed.
The gunman and the man who was being chased had no connection to Olivia and her mother, according to officers.
Merseyside Police chief Serena Kennedy said: “On arrival, our officers could see just how poorly Olivia was.”
Olivia was taken to Alder Hey hospital in critical condition with a gun wound to the chest after the shooting on Kingsheath Avenue, and was later pronounced dead.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen, head of investigations at Merseyside Police, said the gunman, who was wearing a black balaclava with a peak and black gloves, forced his way into the family’s home as Olivia’s mother Cheryl tried to close the door.
She said the gunman started “firing a number of shots with complete disregard for Olivia and her family who had no connection with the gunman or the man who forced his way in”.
Ms Kennedy said Olivia’s “family are absolutely devastated, inconsolable and heartbroken”.
She added: “I know that the murder of Olivia has rocked our communities, who are quite rightly upset and outraged that such an abhorrent crime has occurred here on the streets of Merseyside.
“The people of Liverpool and Merseyside are known for their compassion and pulling together in times of crisis, and I know that our communities, people are wanting to help the family in any way possible.
“This is not the time for anyone who knows who’s responsible for this shooting to remain tight-lipped.
Rebecca Wilkinson, headteacher of St Margaret Mary’s Catholic Junior School, has paid tribute to Olivia, saying she had “a beautiful smile, a lovely sense of humour and a bubbly personality”.
She said: “Our school community is devasted at the sad loss of Olivia. We are in shock and disbelief at such tragic news.
“She was kind-hearted and would go out of her way to help others … Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this extremely sad time.”
Liverpool metro mayor Steve Rotheram said he was “absolutely sickened” by the “senseless loss” of Olivia’s life.
“An innocent child, with a whole life ahead of her, has not only had her future stolen, but from her entire family too,” he said.
Mr Rotheram added that the death of the nine-year-old comes as residents remember the fatal shooting of Rhys Jones 15 years ago, which shook the region “to its very core”.
Olivia’s death comes a day after the killing of Ashley Dale, 28, who was shot in her back garden in another part of the city in what police say was a case of mistaken identity.
Ms Dale died early on Sunday morning seven years after her teenage brother Lewis Dunne was shot dead in 2015 by a Liverpool gang who mistook him for a rival.
Commenting on Olivia’s killing, Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne said there was “lots of anger out there”.
The Labour MP told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “It’s been exceedingly difficult listening to obviously the news this morning and then getting more details this afternoon of the horrific incidents around Olivia’s death.
“It’s been difficult to process for the whole community.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson condemned the “horrific, senseless shooting” of Olivia.
“My thoughts are with Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s family and the people of Liverpool following this horrific, senseless shooting,” he said.
It was an “unimaginable tragedy”, Mr Johnson said, and he promised Merseyside Police would get “whatever they need to catch those responsible and secure justice for Olivia”.
Home secretary Priti Patel has offered her “heartfelt condolences” to Olivia’s family, promising Merseyside Police her “full support”.
She said: “My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the nine-year-old girl who has died.
“It is important that anyone with information comes forward to assist the police with their investigations. The force has my full support and will receive any additional resources they need.”
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