The mother of 11-year-old Rhys Jones told movingly last night of finding that her son had been shot dead on the way home from football practice, and said: "He didn't deserve this ... my baby."
Heartbroken and struggling to contain her grief at a press conference with her husband in Liverpool, Melanie Jones, 41, described her disbelief at the tragic news, and appealed for help in finding their son's killer.
"My baby was only 11," Mrs Jones said, a single tear running down her cheek. "He didn't deserve this. He was shot in the back of his neck from a shot from behind, my baby."
Police released on bail two teenagers, 14 and 18, who had earlier been arrested in relation to the shooting on Wednesday night by a hooded BMX bike rider in the car park of the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth.
"We've lost out world," said the boy's father Stephen Jones, 44, his eyes red with grief. "We are devastated... the world has lost a good guy."
Mr Jones went on to describe his son's innocent love of football, and his beloved Everton. "He was football-mad, absolutely football-mad, a season ticket holder with me, his brother. We go to every home match and they looked forward to it. Football was his life. If he wasn't watching it, he was playing it." His son had saved his pocket money for the Everton kit in which he died, Mr Jones added.
Clearly deep in shock, at one point Mrs Jones turned to her husband, apparently forgetting the cameras' glare and said, in a domestic aside, that they would have to think about what to do about this weekend's ritual family trip to the game with Owen, Rhys's 17-year-old brother. "Rhys would have said go," Mr Jones intervened. But, her voice faltering, Mrs Jones responded: "I can't sit next to an empty seat.
"The whole family is devastated," she went on, her gaze averted to the ground.
Then, turning again to her husband, who works night-shifts as a Tesco manager, she described the moments she was told out of the blue that he son was gone: "You went to work, didn't you, and an hour later there was this knock at the door." Gasping for breath and barely able to get the words out, she went on to say it was her son's football coach, who told her: "He's been shot."
Having rushed to the car park where he lay, blood gashing from his neck, she knelt down, unable to rouse her son. "He was unconscious, he did not come around after that. He was just lying there in a pool of blood. They put him in an ambulance. They tried for an hour and a half to resuscitate him but his little body could not take it, he had just lost too much blood."
Mrs Jones appealed for help. "Please help us. I just want them caught. We would just like to put an appeal out. Please, someone, somewhere must know who has done this. It's got to be someone on the estate. Please come forward." Asked if she had a message for her son's killer, she looked briefly into the cameras and said: "Turn yourself in."
Mr Jones also told of hearing the unbearable news from their boy's mother. "When I was on my way to work, I got a telephone call from my wife. I thought pellet gun, whatever. I turned around and got to Croxteth Park and there was police everywhere. I thought 'God, what's happened here?'"
He told of arriving at the Alder Hey hospital where medics were fighting to save his son's life. "There was my son lying on his back, bleeding, trying to be resuscitated by the doctors there," he said. "They did a fantastic job but he's gone."
He went on to tell of the shock of returning home: "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, and they're unopened. His calculator is there unopened, his shoes are still in the box."
"It's just horrific, your worst nightmare," added Mr Jones. "I would never, ever want to put anyone through what I went through last night. Walking into that trauma room, seeing my son in pools of blood, fighting for his life. It's not real, it's not on... The guy's only 11, he's only 11."Reuse content