Dozens of people have paid tribute to a “lovely and caring” teenager who was stabbed to death in a “targeted attack” outside an Essex pub.
Officers were called at 8pm on Friday to reports two men had been assaulted outside the Rose and Crown pub in The Green, Writtle.
One of the men, named locally as 19-year-old Liam Taylor, died at the scene, while the other, also 19, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. He has since been discharged.
Police are treating the incident as a targeted attack and four men have been arrested on suspicion of murder and remain in custody.
More than 50 people including his mother Michelle Taylor arrived at The Green at around 11am to lay flowers and release balloons in tribute to Mr Taylor.
A procession and prayer was led by local vicar Rev Tony Cant before well wishers took part in a minute’s silence.
Writing on Facebook on Saturday, Ms Taylor said: “Can’t even believe my beautiful son has been taken from me.. son u (sic) are my world and I know ur (sic) be looking down on me.”
Connor Wise, 21, and Georgia Wicks, 19, from the nearby village of Great Baddow, said they received a call from a friend on Friday night about Mr Taylor’s death.
Mr Wise, who said he had known Mr Taylor for four years, said: “He was a lovely and caring guy, I would hang out with him in town.”
A tearful Miss Wicks, who said she dated Mr Taylor two years ago, added: “It’s so shocking, I used to work with his grandmother at St Peter’s Hospital in Maldon.”
Flowers were placed beneath a tree close to the pub.
One message read: “RIP Liam, you will always be in our hearts, too young to die.”
Villagers in the area spoke of their shock after hearing news of the stabbing.
An 85 year old woman, from Lodge Road, who did not want to be named, said serious incidents were rare in Writtle.
“I’ve lived here for 40 years and nothing like this ever happens,” she said. “It’s such a quiet place.”
Another 81-year-old dog walker, who lives five minutes away from the pub, said: “It’s a shame it happened at that lovely little pub, the owners must be devastated.”
A police cordon remained at the scene on Saturday morning, with parts of The Green closed to traffic between the pub and St John’s Road. The cordon was moved to allow traffic through The Green shortly before 11am.
Detective Inspector Greg Wood, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Officers have been working throughout the night and are continuing today to take witness statements and gather information to help establish the circumstances around this tragic incident.
“We are treating it as a targeted attack based on our enquiries so far.
“I’d like to thank members of the public for their help and ask anyone who has information but has yet to come forward to please call us, or to contact Crimestoppers anonymously.
“I know people will be concerned and officers are carrying out extra patrols today in Writtle.
“I’d ask anyone who has information or any concerns to please speak to them or to call us.”
Anyone with information is asked to phone 101 and quote incident 1107 of Friday January 31 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.