Fear has gripped a Manchester community after a 19-year-old was stabbed to death on one of the city's busiest roads. The Manchester Evening News understands the university student had been walking home from a party before being attacked by someone he did not know on Wilmslow Road, in Fallowfield.
The suburb is well-known for its heavy student population. Many woke up to the sight of officers patrolling their neighbourhood, their streets taped off, and investigators gathering clues about another life lost on the city's streets.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed the death this evening (October 26), but word had already travelled fast following the attack at around 2am. “Just imagine…we could’ve gone on a night out last night,” two young women told each other as they walked to a bus stop.
Neighbours along Furness Road and Cawdor Road, which were partially taped off, recalled hearing 'screams and shouting' in the early hours. “I didn’t know what had happened, but it sounded horrible,” one resident said.
Several people told the M.E.N. that they have friends who saw the incident happen or were diverted home in the early hours in the morning on their return from nights out. One woman said: "I was out, I walked home by myself just half an hour before this happened.
"I’m so glad I left the pub early. It’s so scary. You hear about break-ins in Fallowfield, but not this.”
It was a sentiment shared by many in the community - but there was also a sense of anger from some. “I hate it here - it’s so unsafe,” one student said.
“I think the police have something to answer for,” the manager of one local business, who chose to stay anonymous, told the M.E.N. “These things seem to be happening more and more around here. What are they doing about it?”
As news of the man's death was confirmed later in the day, more people came forward expressing their shock. A second-year student on Landcross Road, which had also been taped off, said: "It's just very tense, I think. A bit scary.
"My flatmate was walking through at 1.50am so it's a bit scary to think it happened at that time." As the evening went on, the cordon began to be lifted, and neighbours living close to the scene described how they had been rocked by the stabbing near their doorstep.
"We know we live in a student area, you see stuff going on, but you wouldn't expect a stabbing," one second-year student said. Alongside two of her friends at home, she added: "There are quite a few dodgy people here.
"I did not expect a student to be involved. In a way, because there are so many students here, it makes you feel safer. But when something like this happens to a student... it's just sad, whatever it was, it's so sad."
One student told the M.E.N. she had felt too scared to walk home from town because of the incident. "I got someone to drive me," she added. "It's just so sad - it could have been any one of us."
Not all students were overcome by the situation though. One woman said: "I think it's a very sad situation, but I don't feel nervous. It's just sad - it's one of those things."
Coun Jade Doswell, Manchester Council member for Fallowfield, shared the grief felt by those in her ward. "This news is absolutely heartbreaking, and my sincere thoughts are with the victim's family, I can't imagine what they are going through," the Labour member said.
"I'm absolutely devastated that another young life has been taken on the streets of Fallowfield. It has absolutely got to stop.
"Alongside the work I'm doing with Fallowfield-based Charity Merosworld, around preventative youth work, bleed cabinet distribution and education on knife crime awareness, we will be speaking to GMP and the Community Safety Team once we have more information on this incident, about what action we should be taking to get knives off the streets of Fallowfield and stop the awful and unnecessary death of young people here." GMP have moved to reassure those in Fallowfield that there is no wider threat to the public.
Detective Superintendent Neil Jones, of Greater Manchester Police South Manchester Division, said: "This was a terrible crime which has robbed a young man of his life and my thoughts are with his family at this devastating time. I understand it will cause distress and concern to many in Fallowfield and across Manchester more widely, including our large student community.
"The investigation is in its early stages, but I can assure you that our officers are working round the clock and carrying out extensive enquiries to establish the full circumstances surrounding this incident. We are actively pursuing leads and will relentlessly pursue the offender to ensure they are brought to justice.
"There will be more officers out on the streets in Fallowfield and the surrounding area over the coming days conducting high visibility and plain clothes patrols to gather intelligence and reassure the community. Greater Manchester Police operates a Student Safe Operation with our partners on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights where our officers patrol the student areas at night, and these efforts will ramp up and be given extra resources.
"I hope this goes someway to reassure the community and if anyone has any information about this incident or has any concerns, I urge you to speak to these officers. They are there to help and support you."