LONDON (Reuters) - Liverpool police arrested six more teenagers, two of them girls, on Saturday in connection with the murder of schoolboy Rhys Jones and renewed appeals for help in finding his killer.
Three boys aged, 15, 16, and 19 and two girls aged 15 and 18 were detained in Liverpool on Saturday morning, a Merseyside Police spokesman said. Another 19-year-old male was arrested later in the day.
Detective Superintendent David Kelly said one of the boys was injured during the arrest when he fell from a window through which he was trying to escape. He said the injuries were not life-threatening.
He called for a dark-haired woman seen pushing a pram in the area at the time of the shooting to come forward.
“We believe this woman may have passed by the person responsible for killing Rhys,” he told reporters, adding that the woman had been wearing white flared trousers and a dark top.
Detectives 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 said he would protect people scared of reprisals from local gangs if they come forward.
“We understand that people are frightened, but people have got to stand up and be counted,” he told reporters. “We have not had the level of information about those key issues that we would expect and that we want.
“We understand those concerns and I’m trying to offer reassurance that we will do something about protecting people.”
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”.
Armitt said the boy may have been caught up in a long-running feud between rival gangs in Liverpool.
He appealed directly to family and friends of the killer, believed to be a teenager aged 13-16 riding a BMX bicycle.
“If you have a member of your family who falls into that age group ... who was out that night, who perhaps is nervous, concerned, behaving unusually, then perhaps parents or siblings of that individual need to be asking themselves questions,” Armitt said.
Police appealed for information over the public address system at half-time during the match between Everton and Blackburn Rovers at Goodison Park.
The football-loving schoolboy was a season-ticket holder at Everton with his father Stephen and brother Owen.
On Friday police arrested a 15-year-old boy on suspicion of Rhys’s murder. Two others, aged 14 and 18, have been bailed.
The shooting was the latest in a spate of murders of young people across Britain this year that have focused attention on gang-related violence.
Additional reporting by Tim Castle and Jeremy Lovell