Suspects released in Rhys Jones murder

LONDON Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:04pm BST

1 of 6. Eleven-year-old Rhys Jones is seen in this undated hanout photo. Four people arrested in connection with the murder of Jones have been released without charge, police said on Monday. Reuters/Police Handout/Merseyside Police

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LONDON (Reuters) - Four people arrested in connection with the murder of schoolboy Rhys Jones have been released without charge, police said on Monday.

Detectives have released a boy aged 15, a man aged 19, a girl aged 15 and a woman aged 18, a spokesman for Merseyside police said.

Two other people -- an 19-year-old man and 16-year-old boy -- have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Rhys, 11, was shot dead outside a pub in the Croxteth area of Liverpool on Wednesday in an attack that Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a "heinous crime".

The schoolboy was a season ticket holder at Everton Football Club and players of the premier league soccer team laid a floral tribute, football boots and football shirts at the scene of the shooting near the Fir Tree Pub on Monday.

Captain Phil Neville said: "There are some great tributes there to an 11-year-old lad who was a massive Evertonian and we're here to pay our respects today."

The youngster's parents, Stephen and Melanie, and elder brother Owen joined Everton players and fans as they paid tribute to Rhys on Saturday with a minute's applause.

Neville praised the parents, saying: "They have been very strong. It probably would have been (one of) the hardest days of their life on Saturday to come to watch Everton play without their son.

"We've all got families. We all know how we love our children and our love and respect is with them at this moment."

Fellow player Alan Stubbs said the murder had affected everyone at the club and in Liverpool and appealed for anyone with information to contact the police.

Rhys' killing is the latest in a spate of murders of young people this year that have focused attention on gang-related violence.

But one gang member, speaking anonymously to Sky News, said he thought the shooting was a case of mistaken identity.

"It's got to be gang related, but on the other hand no-one knows because it's only an 11-year-old and he was into football and that and not into any gang stuff, so I think it was a mistaken, a mis-identity."

He said guns were "very easy" to get hold of and Britain's gang culture was getting out of control.

"You can't even walk out your own door without people staring at you or getting in trouble or getting threatened."

Police have expressed concern at the lack of evidence from the public and urged people to "stand up and be counted".

Chief Superintendent Chris Armitt of Merseyside Police promised to protect people scared of reprisals.

Police later traced and spoke to a dark-haired woman seen pushing a pram in the area at the time of the shooting.

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