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A teenager was accidentally shot dead at her boyfriend’s party as she dropped off his birthday present, friends said on Sunday night.
Star pupil Shereka Marsh, 15, bled to death in minutes after being shot in the neck as a youth “showed off” an antique gun, “waving it around”.
Witnesses claimed they pleaded with the boy to put the weapon down. But moments later, the World War Two handgun went off without warning.
On Sunday night Scotland Yard detectives were trying to piece together the tragedy at a house in Hackney, East London.
Three boys, one aged 15 and two 16-year-olds, have been arrested on suspicion of murder. Two are thought to be brothers.
Friends said “love-struck” Shereka had popped into the house to give her boyfriend of a few months a pair of white Nike Air Force One trainers.
On social networking site Twitter, the teenager said that she was looking forward to the party. She wrote “can next week Saturday hurry up” and “got my outfit in my head already”. Hours before the tragedy, she added: “Happy birthday to my baby boy.”
Shereka, described as a model pupil, was chosen to guide the Jamaican High Commissioner around The Urswick School on a visit 10 days ago. She was studying for her GCSE exams and dreamed of going to college.
The shooting happened at about 4pm on Saturday as teenagers gathered at the house in the absence of parents.
One said the boy had brought the gun into the living room.
“He was showing off with it. Everyone was shouting at him to put it away,” he said.
“They were actually screaming at him, but he was waving it around in people’s faces when it just went off without any warning. There was a loud bang and Shereka fell down to the floor.
“The boy just bolted from the house with his brother. Someone else had to phone an ambulance after hearing the screaming.”
A friend said the boy was “fooling around”. She added: “He was like an older brother to me. I’m very shocked that he had a gun.”
Tributes was paid to Shereka on Sunday as the news spread. Her mother Shyrine, 41, a chef who came to the UK from Jamaica 12 years ago, was being comforted by relatives.
Her cousin Tritian Mills said: “I don’t know how she’s coping. How do you cope when you’ve lost your only child? Shereka was beautiful. She was a really good girl. She was very smart and athletic - a real all-rounder.
“She was good at everything - maths, English, history - she had so much promise,” he added. “We don’t know what happened on Saturday night.”
The scene in Hackney Wick remained cordoned off on Sunday as forensic experts investigated.
The neighbourhood, in the shadow of the Olympic Park, was once known for violent crime but has grown popular with artists.
Residents said the shooting was “sadly not a surprise”, as many children are forced to look after guns for gang members.
Krista Brown, whose son is friends with those involved, said: “Round here a lot of young kids have guns. Most of them are given to them by older kids.
“They are just boys with deadly weapons... Gangs and violence, this is our kids” reality.”
Miss Brown, a National Apprenticeship Service ambassador, added: “It’s a tragic situation.”
Friends who visited the scene to leave flowers said Shereka was the “life and soul” of any group.
Priscilla Dade, 16, said: “She was incredibly friendly and bubbly. She was the energy of our friendship group.
“Shereka was very ambitious and planned to go to college and then university. She was the type of girl you wanted to be around.”
Another said: “Shereka only went to drop off his birthday present, and somehow she got shot. Nobody knows how yet.”
Family friend Kourtney Fraser-Grant said Shereka had strong feelings for her new boyfriend.
“She wasn’t someone who liked to admit that she cared about someone but it was obvious she really liked him,” she said.
“Shereka’s mother is a chef who worked really hard and long hours to support her daughter. Shereka was all she had.”
Shereka had made thousands of posts on Twitter. One poignant message, from the day before her death, said simply: “I don’t understand the concept of life.”
A post-mortem examination at Poplar Mortuary found Shereka died from a single gunshot wound to the neck.
A Met police spokesman said that a gun was recovered from the house and that “inquiries continue to establish the full circumstances of the incident”. - Daily Mail