EMOTIONAL tributes were last night being paid to schoolgirl Christina Edkins following her shocking knife attack death on a crowded bus.
The tributes were led by Neil Shaw, the 16-year-old’s headteacher at Leasowes High School, in Halesowen, near Birmingham.
“Christina was a bright and popular student much loved by staff and students alike,” he said.
“We are deeply saddened to hear this tragic news and our thoughts and hearts go out to her family and everyone who knew her.
“The school is working closely with the police and a team of counsellors to provide support to our pupils and staff.”
Friends left bouquets of flowers at the gates of the school yesterday afternoon.
A card on one read: “Christina didn’t deserve this at all. Such a nice person. Heaven’s gained an angel. Rest in peace beautiful x”
Flowers were also left near the scene of the attack in Birmingham’s Hagley Road.
On one bunch of roses, a card read: “Christina a truly lovely young girl. We’ll miss you. Rest in peace angel. Cass and Ben”
On another bunch of mixed flowers the message on the card read: “To Christina. We will miss you loads.
“You were a beautiful girl and a bundle of joy. Rest in peace cutey. Lots of love Ryan and Dale xxx”
A message on another mixed bunch simply read: “Christina. Gone but never forgotten. Love you loads. Broddersz xxx”.
Police officers were maintaining a high-profile presence on Birmingham’s buses and around its schools yesterday afternoon in an attempt to provide reassurance for residents.
Specialist forensic investigators were also carrying out checks to try to pinpoint CCTV systems that may have captured the attack.
A spokesman from National Express West Midlands said: “We can confirm that a tragic incident took place on a number 9 service this morning.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with the family of the person involved and we will offer all possible support to the police in their investigation into the matter.”
Local church leaders voiced their shock at the attack, among them Rev Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, who sent his condolences in a message from Rome.
“I am shocked to hear of the terrible attack on young Christina Edkins as she was making her way to school on a bus today,” he said.
“My thoughts and prayers are with her bereft family and with all her friends at Leasowes High School, in Halesowen.
“The loss of a young life in these tragic circumstances raises many questions about our respect for life and about safeguarding children in public places.”
The Rev Mike Rutter, Vicar of St Peter’s Church in Lapal, Halesowen, said parishioners would be welcome to pray and light candles in her memory.
“It’s a terrible tragedy and many in our community will be affected.
“We are ensuring St Peter’s Church in Lapal is open to enable anyone who wishes to come in, say a prayer, light a candle and sign a book of condolence.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Christina’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
A tribute page has been set up on Facebook, with users calling her death “a waste of a beautiful young life” and saying “justice will prevail”.
One poster, Hannah Louise, said: “Such a pretty girl, tragic waste of life, thoughts are with her family so, so upsetting x.”
Another, Jade Sarah said: “Such a sad day thoughts are with your family and friends [you’re] such a pretty girl rest in peace I lost a friend not so long ago who was stabbed what’s the world coming to it was nothing like this before now the world’s messed up with knife crime!!!”
Anyone with information about the stabbing has been urged to get in contact with detectives via West Midlands Police’s 101 phone number.
Witnesses can also leave information anonymously through independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.