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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 August 2007, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Prayers for murdered boy's family
Rhys Jones
Rhys was cradled by his mother as he lay dying

Prayers have been said in churches across Liverpool for 11-year-old Rhys Jones who was shot dead in Merseyside.

Reverend Doctor David Leslie, vicar of St Cuthbert's Church, which is near to where Rhys was shot in Croxteth, said it had all been a "terrible shock".

Police have confirmed they have spoken to a woman seen pushing a pram near the Fir Tree pub just before the shooting.

A 15-year-old boy was also arrested just after midday and officers are continuing to question six people.

A 16-year-old boy and two men aged 19, a girl, 15, and an 18-year-old woman are all currently in custody.

A 15-year-old boy was released on police bail after being arrested on Friday on Broadway in Norris Green.

Dr David Leslie said: "We'll pray for Rhys of course, and we'll be thinking very much of his mum and dad, and all those close to them.

"I think everybody is absolutely devastated by what has happened. It's been a terrible shock and in some ways it seems almost unreal.

"It's very, very hard to come to terms with."

Black armbands

On Saturday nearly 40,000 football fans paid tribute to Everton-mad Rhys with a minute's applause at Goodison Park.

Everton players, and their opponents Blackburn Rovers, wore black armbands as a mark of respect to the boy, who had been playing football outside the Fir Tree pub shortly before he died last Wednesday.

Rhys's parents, Melanie and Stephen, and his brother, Owen, stood with Everton manager David Moyes as cheers erupted from the crowd.

Stephen and Melanie Jones
Everton footballers and fans paid tribute with a minute's applause

The boy's parents were comforted at the match by the club's chaplain, the Reverend Harry Ross.

Speaking on 5 Live Breakfast, he called on the government to redress what he saw as an imbalance in the justice system.

"Why should the moral majority be afraid of the immoral minority?" he said.

"Why are people afraid to speak out when something is wrong?"

The Justice Secretary Jack Straw, speaking on BBC News 24 on Sunday morning, said the issue could not be dealt with by the government and police alone, and urged anyone with information to come forward.

"I think that everybody has accepted now this is an issue beyond politics," he said.

Suspect injured

Detectives are treating the inquiry in to Rhys's death as Category A Plus - the "most serious" of crimes.

One of the 19-year-olds arrested is being questioned by detectives on suspicion of murder, while the other suffered minor injuries as he tried to escape arrest.

Ch Supt Chris Armitt from Merseyside Police
We have ways of protecting members of the public who come forward with information
Ch Supt Chris Armitt, Merseyside Police

Rhys "was in the wrong place at the wrong time", police have said.

Mr Kelly said his bike-riding teenage killer emerged from an estate at the back of the Fir Tree pub.

He said that the boy cycled at the back of the pub for a few minutes before firing three bullets in Rhys's direction - one of which passed through the boy's neck.

Chief Superintendent Chris Armitt said residents must "examine their consciences" and take a stand against gang culture.

Speaking at a press conference near the spot where Rhys was shot, Ch Supt Chris Armitt said: "We understand that people are concerned about giving information to the police, we understand that people are frightened.

"[But] what I want to say to people is, listen, they've got to stand up and they've got be counted.

"We have ways of protecting members of the public who come forward with information, we can protect their identity."




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