Police have described the moment a gunman shot into the house of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel, killing her and injuring her mother.
Olivia was killed shortly after 10pm on Monday night after a 35-year-old man, being chased by another man with a gun, forced his way into her house.
The gunman followed and put his hand through a gap in the door, before shooting blind around the corner.
Olivia was shot in the chest and fatally injured where she stood at the bottom of the stairs, while her mother Cheryl was shot in the arm.
There were two further shots at the 35-year-old man inside the house, hitting him in the body, before the attacker made off on foot.
Friends of the man who forced himself into the house picked him up from outside in a dark Audi and took him to hospital “while Olivia lay dying”, said Chief Constable Serena Kennedy. The vehicle they travelled in has now been seized.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen said: “We now believe that around 10pm two men were walking along Kingsheath Avenue from the direction of Finch Lane.
“At that time they were approached by a lone person – potentially a male – who was wearing a black padded jacket, a black balaclava with a peak, dark pants, and black gloves. This individual was approximately 5ft 7ins tall and of slim build, and they were carrying a handgun.”
He said this person shot at the two men, causing them to run away.
After hearing gunshots on the street Olivia’s mother opened the door to the family’s house. The man being chased then pushed his way into their home.
After being shot Olivia was taken to Alder Hey hospital in a critical condition, where she later died.
The man and her mother are being treated in hospital for their injuries. The 35-year-old hasn’t spoken yet as a result of his injuries.
A ‘popular pupil’ who loved to perform
Rebecca Wilkinson, head teacher at St Margaret Mary’s Catholic Junior School – which Olivia attended – said: “Our school community is devasted at the sad loss of Olivia. We are in shock and disbelief at such tragic news.
“Olivia was a much-loved member of our school. She had a beautiful smile, a lovely sense of humour, and a bubbly personality. She was kind-hearted and would go out of her way to help others. She loved to perform and recently participated in the school production of The Wizard of Oz. Olivia will be missed greatly by staff and children at our school.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this extremely sad time.”
Cllr Graham Morgan, leader of Knowsley Council, added: “I am shocked and saddened to hear about Olivia’s untimely and tragic death. She had her whole life ahead of her and it is hard to comprehend her having it cut short in such terrible circumstances.
“I know that Olivia was a popular pupil at St Margaret Mary’s Catholic Junior School in Huyton. She enjoyed school, had lots of friends, and would go out of her way to help others. She also recently took part in the school’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
“We will ensure that the staff and pupils at the school are given whatever support they need at such an awful time for them. My thoughts and condolences go to Olivia’s family and friends at this very sad time.”
‘Not the time to remain tight-lipped’
Chief Constable 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.
“It is time for our communities to come together with us and make Merseyside a place where the use of guns on our streets is totally unacceptable, and those who use them are held to account.”
Third gun crime victim in the last week
Chief Constable Kennedy said: “Poignantly Olivia was killed on the 15th anniversary of the death of Rhys Jones.
“His murder should have been a watershed moment on gun crime and the use of crime on our streets.”
Olivia’s loved ones are the third family to lose someone to gun crime in Merseyside in the last week.
Merseyside Police appealed for those involved to come forward, saying the crime “crosses every single boundary”.
“I also want to take the opportunity to appeal to members of the criminal fraternity and ask them to examine their consciences as they will have vital information that can help us,” said chief constable Kennedy.
“The killing of a nine-year-old child is an absolute tragedy and crosses every single boundary, and I would urge them to do the right thing so we can put this person behind bars.”