By ROB HARRIS, Associated Press Writer
LIVERPOOL, England - Police arrested a third teenager Friday in the shooting of an 11-year-old boy whose death has confronted a shocked Britain with the problem of youth violence and gang culture.
The victim, Rhys Jones, was kicking a soccer ball around with friends Wednesday night when he was hit in the back of the neck by a bullet — reportedly fired by one of two youths riding by on a BMX bicycle. Police said they believed a long-barreled, black pistol was used.
Two youths, ages 14 and 18, were detained by police Thursday on suspicion of murder, and released on bail within hours. Assistant Chief Constable Patricia Gallan said a 16-year-old was arrested Friday.
Pictures of the dead boy and of his agonized mother, Melanie, appeared on the front pages of most national newspapers Friday. "Just what has gone wrong with our country?" the Daily Express asked in a headline.
[Real Liberal Christian Church comment: Your country has had neocons leading it in the wrong (violent, warmongering, greedy, selfish, depraved) direction. That's why you are suffering more internal violence. It will only worsen until you turn and repent.]
In television interviews, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith choked back tears in declaring that the government was seeking answers to the problem of youth crime.
"One of the things I am talking about with the prime minister Gordon Brown is where are people getting guns from? How are they getting here?" Smith said.
Britain outlawed the possession of handguns in 1997 in response to the massacre of 16 children, and the country has one of the lowest gun homicide rates in the world — 0.04 slayings per 100,000 people, according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey for 2004. The rate is roughly 100 times higher in the U.S.: 3.42 gun murders per 100,000 people.
Nonetheless, illicit guns are being smuggled into the country. And they continue to kill, with a recent peak of 97 gunshot deaths in 2001-02. There were 50 such deaths in 2005-06, according to the most recent government data.
[Real Liberal Christian Church comment: Changing hearts is the right path. End your militarism. Get out of the Empire business. Set the right example for your children. Right now, they are simply reflecting the evil (hardhearted) spirit of so-called adults.]
Police said there was no indication why Rhys was targeted, because he was not known to belong to any gang. He might have been a victim of mistaken identity or was accidentally shot by a teen trying to show off, a police official said, agreeing to discuss the case only if not quoted by name.
Gang violence in Britain is most often centered in bleak, gang-ridden neighborhoods with high unemployment, unlike Liverpool's working class Croxteth area where the boy was slain.
[Real Liberal Christian Church comment: Why are people left behind? The people of Croxteth are oppressed by the selfish and greedy (Capitalist) oligarchs of the world. Why isn't England a completely giving and sharing nation? Why doesn't it have the Commons anymore to feed the nation as it once did when it was considered free before the Norman Invasion by the spirit of selfishness (fiefdom builders)?
You need to reappraise your entire direction — the spirit you are following. Selfishness is degrading all the nations and the whole planet. It is disturbing the entire cosmos actually.]
Even before Rhys was shot down, killings of young people already were drawing increased attention. In London alone this year, seven youths have been fatally shot and 11 stabbed to death.
On Friday, neighbors, children and parents in the middle class community where Rhys lived streamed to the pub parking lot where he died. Many cards bore the simple question: Why?
"Good night and God bless son, till we meet again. All our love and kisses from mum, dad and Owen," read one message.
"When I look up to the sky and any tears that I cry, I will think of you," said another note from one of the victim's friends. A bouquet of blue and white flowers, the colors of his favorite soccer team, Everton, lay nearby.
The anguished parents shared their grief with the country in a televised news conference Thursday night.
"I then go to his room where he should be — he should be asleep — open his wardrobe. His school uniform that we have bought for senior school, his pens and pencils are there unopened," said his father, Stephen Jones, a 44-year-old store manager. "His calculator is there unopened, his shoes are still in the box. ... It's just horrific, your worst nightmare."
The Everton soccer team will wear black armbands during its home game Saturday against Blackburn and will join an expected crowd of 40,000 fans in a moment of silence to honor Rhys.
"We all here at the club have families of our own, and we cannot comprehend what you are going through," the team's captain, Phil Neville, said in a message to the boy's family.