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 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 01:34 GMT
Hundreds attend shooting victims vigil
Vigil
About 500 people attended the service
Hundreds of people have attended a candlelit vigil in memory of two teenage girls who were shot dead in Birmingham.

About 500 people attended the service at a church in Aston across the road from where Charlene Ellis, 18 and Latisha Shakespeare, 17, were killed a week ago.

Our own children are dying

Memmorley Webber
They then held a vigil at the scene where the two cousins were caught in a crossfire between rival gangs last Thursday.

A crowd of mourners queued to sign a book of condolences in Holy Trinity Church.

The vigil lasted until midnight to mark a week since the teenagers died outside a New Year's Day party.

Calls for justice

The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Rev John Sentamu, led the congregation in song, saying that "enough was enough".

He told them "the blood of the two sixth formers was crying from the ground seeking for justice".

Charlene Ellis and Latisha Shakespeare
The teenagers were on a New Year night out
Outside the service many more had gathered.

Memmorley Webber, 35, from Tipton, in the Black Country, said: "Our own children are dying, and the mothers and the fathers are burying their children instead of the children burying their parents".

Poignant message

At the scene where the girls were shot, a tribute was pinned.

Written in memory of "Charlene Ellis aka Bad Girl C" it read: "Automatic rifles AK47s, weapons of destruction that destroy lives in seconds" and finished: "Charlene rest in peace my dear, your lyrics and words are legendary."

Flowers at the scene of the shooting
Tributes were laid at the scene of the shooting
Earlier college principal Chris Grayson, of Josiah Mason College, in Erdington, where the girls had been studying art and design, praised the pair.

"They were very popular and will be sadly missed," he said.

Birmingham coroner Aidan Cotter opened and adjourned an inquest into the death of Charlene on Thursday.

An inquest into Latisha's death is due to open on Friday.

Meanwhile police have confirmed they want to speak to Marcus Ellis, the brother of Charlene Ellis, who may have witnessed the incident.

The 23-year-old is said to be a member of the Burger Bar Boys, one of the Birmingham-based gangs whose violent clash with rivals the Johnson Crew is thought to have led to the girls' deaths.

Detectives stressed there is no warrant out for the arrest of Mr Ellis.

Charlene's father, Arthur Ellis, has appealed for his son to "go to the police and tell them what you know".

Rival gangs

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Mr Ellis, of Smethwick, said he feared Marcus may have been involved in the shootout and pleaded for him to "come to his senses".

Latisha was shot four times and Charlene three times by the same weapon - a sub-machine gun.

Charlene's twin sister, Sophie, and their cousin, 17-year-old Cheryl Shaw, were also hit in the flurry of bullets in Aston on Thursday.

Latisha's mother Marcia told an earlier news conference: "I don't want another incident, children to be killed. It has got to stop now."


Click here to go to BBC Birmingham Online

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See also:

09 Jan 03 | Politics
07 Jan 03 | Politics
07 Jan 03 | UK
04 Jan 03 | England
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