Pictured: 'Innocent bystander' Aya Hachem, 19, shot dead in Blackburn while walking to Lidl

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  • May 18, 2020
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A 19-year-old woman shot dead in the street as she walked to a Lidl supermarket has been named by police as Aya Hachem.

Miss Hachem, a law student at the University of Salford, was in King Street, Blackburn when someone in a passing vehicle opened fire in her direction, Lancashire Police said.

Shots were fired from the light green Toyota Avensis with a number of occupants on board and one fatally struck the teenager.

There is no evidence to suggest Miss Hachem was the intended target of the attack at about 3pm on Sunday and it is thought she was an innocent bystander, police added.

Investigators at the scene in King Street, Blackburn (PA)

Miss Hachem’s family described her as “the most loyal, devoted daughter” who died in the “most horrific circumstances”.

“She excelled in her studies both at Blackburn Central High School and at Salford University where she was in her second year and dreamed of becoming a solicitor,” her family said in a statement.

“She had just completed her exams and was learning to drive.

“We her parents are absolutely devastated by her death and would like to take this opportunity to plead with any members of the public who may have any information however small that may bring those responsible to justice.”

The vehicle believed to have been used in the shooting (PA)

Mark Russell, chief executive of the Children’s Society, where Miss Hachem was a trustee, described her as “a truly remarkable young woman” and an “inspiring voice for children and young people”.​

A statement on the Facebook page of the Asylum and Refugee Community (ARC) project in Blackburn said Miss Hachem was the eldest daughter of Samar and Ismael, from Lebanon.

“Aya, a beautiful 19-year-old young woman from Lebanon, had just passed her second year law exams at Salford University and had a dream and ambition to study international law,” the statement said.

“Aya and her family are much loved in our ARC community. Our hearts and prayers are with them at this painful time especially during this holy month of Ramadam when Aya and her family were fasting.”

Janice Allan, dean of Salford Business School, said: “Aya Hachem was a very popular and promising second year student whose contribution went beyond the classroom.”

Police officers at the scene of the shooting on Sunday (PA)

No arrests have been made and DCC Terry Woods, of Lancashire Police, has urged anyone with information “to search their consciences and get in touch”.

“This was an appalling and senseless attack on an innocent young woman, whose life was cut short while she was simply out doing some shopping,” he said.

“First and foremost our condolences are with her family, who have lost their daughter during the holy month of Ramadan.

“In the last 24 hours we have learnt that Aya was a much-loved family member and friend who was enjoying her studies at the University of Salford.

“She also gave her time to being a young trustee of the Children’s Society. For her life to have been cut short like this is unthinkable and her family are understandably utterly distraught.”

DCC Woods said armed officers are carrying out high visibility patrols in the area to reassure residents.

Police are urging witnesses to come forward (PA)

“We are now asking anybody with information to come forward,” he said.

“We know King Street was reasonably busy at the time of the attack and there will have been witnesses in the areas of King Street and Whalley Banks, near Lidl and the A674, who may have seen something or who may know who is responsible.

“We believe a green-coloured Toyota Avensis was used to commit the offence, and this car was later recovered nearby.

“If you saw the car in the area of King Street and Whalley Banks, or if you saw it being abandoned on Wellington Road, again we would urge you to get in touch.

“Similarly if you have information about who had been using this vehicle either on the day of the attack or in the weeks preceding, please tell us.

Ms Hachem is believed to have been an innocent bystander (PA)

“We are also still appealing for anybody with mobile phone, CCTV or dashcam footage taken in the area between 10am and 4pm yesterday to send it to us.

“We appreciate people may not want to get involved and may be reluctant to come forward, but an innocent young woman has been killed in broad daylight and we are asking anybody with any information at all to search their consciences and get in touch to tell us what they know.”

Police stressed that the incident is not being treated as terrorism-related or racially-motivated.

Anyone with any other information is asked to get in touch on 101, quoting log number 0412 of May 18, or anonymously via independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.