Blackburn shooting: Aya Hachem’s father pays tribute

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The father of a woman who was shot dead in the street hoped his family would be safe in the UK after they fled Lebanon.

Law student Aya Hachem, 19, was shot from a passing car in a case of mistaken identity, in the town’s King Street on Sunday.

Her father Ismail told the BBC his dreams have been destroyed in the wake of her death.

Two more people have been detained in connection with the investigation, bringing the number of arrests to 11.

Eight people have been arrested on suspicion of murder while a further three suspects have been held on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Police have been given more time to question the first three men who were arrested on Monday.

The suspects, who are aged 19 to 39, remain in police custody.

‘Complete tragedy’

Ms Hachem was walking towards Lidl at about 15:00 BST when she was hit by one of several shots fired from a car.

Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods, of Lancashire Police, said the “completely innocent” law student had not been the intended target.

Mr Hachem told Rahila Bano from BBC Asian Network he repeatedly tried to call his eldest daughter – who with her family had been living in the UK for a decade – when she did not return home from the supermarket.

His wife later told him “my heart is saying go check on Aya”, he told the BBC.

During his search to find his daughter, Mr Hachem discovered King Street had been cordoned off.

He was unaware that this was the scene of his daughter’s death until the police arrived at his home later that day.

“I start crying… cause all my dreams, Aya,” he said.

“I think I would be safe here… in this small town. No big problems.”

The Lebanese-born teenager – a second year student at the University of Salford – was a young trustee for the Children’s Society.

The charity’s chief executive Mark Russell said: “She was bright, passionate, hard-working, ambitious.

“It’s a complete tragedy that her life has been cut short.”

‘Great aspirations’

Her former head teacher described as a “wonderful young lady who had so much to offer”.

Diane Atkinson, executive head of Blackburn Central High School, said: “She fled a war-torn zone as a refugee and came to the UK looking for a better life.

Ms Hachem arrived at the school as a 12-year-old “with very little English” but “picked it up very quickly”.

She was a “very intelligent young lady” who had “great aspirations to help other people” and “worked incredibly hard to become the very, very best person she could be”, Ms Atkinson said.

A Toyota Avensis, believed to have been used in the shooting, was later found abandoned in Wellington Road.

Detectives said the shooting was not being treated as terrorism-related or a racially-motivated attack.

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