A 16-year-boy knifed repeatedly in a gang attack yesterday afternoon died in hospital this morning.

Police launched a murder inquiry after Shakilus Townsend, from Tanners Hill, Deptford, was killed after being chased by at least six hooded and masked youths.

He was knocked to the ground and knifed in the chest multiple times in Beluah Crescent, Thornton Heath at around 1.46pm yesterday afternoon.

Shakilus was found by police and the London Ambulance Service suffering from stab wounds in a doorway to a block of flats after being called a member of the public.

Robert Temple, 72, an ex-army medic, was already at the scene and treating the teen before the emergency services arrived.

He said: "It was horrific. The poor lad was covered in blood and crying."

Mr Temple said a blade, between four and five inches long, was handed to police after being found in bushes nearby.

Shakilus was rushed to St George's Hospital, Tooting, where he was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.

Although he has not been officially identified police say they are sure of identity and his family has been informed of his death.

A postmortem examination will be held in due course.

Dee Bamina a 35-year-old student and mum of a seven-year-old boy helped comfort Shakilus before he was taken to hospital.

She said: "He was saying: 'I don't want to die, I want my mum.'

"My son has gone to school this morning very frightened. I'm trying to be strong but it's not easy."

Detective Chief Inspector Cliff Lyons, who is leading the murder investigation, said: "This is another senseless incident in which a young life has been taken away by a knife. Given that this happened outside a block of flats in broad daylight, I am certain there are people who will have witnessed this murder.

"I would urge those people to come forward and speak to the police, to help us bring justice to the Shakilus's family and friends.

Eyewitness, Richard Higgins, 17, was shaken by the ordeal

He said: "The first thing I saw was loads of blood. I heard the boy crying for his mum over and over again. Even when the ambulance came he was trying to take off the oxygen mask and speak to the ambulance crew to tell them to call his mum."

Mr Higgins added: "He was tiny and looked terrified."

Residents described how a group of five to six black males and a mixed race female, dressed in hooded tops with scarves and balaclavas chased the boy through around Beluah Crescent on pushbikes.

Residents said they heard the youths shouting "Get him, he's over there" before chasing him down outside a block of flats. They pounced on the teenager stabbing him four times in the side and once in the centre of his chest.

Retired Peter Gibbs, 60, said: "I have asked for more patrols and they never listen. There was as shooting around here last time and nobody came.

"It's a disgrace. I've seen gangs around and I am afraid. I want the police to do something about it but nobody helps. I feel terrified and so do the other residents. It's just not good enough."

Malcolm Wicks, Labour MP for Croydon North, said: "This is yet another brutal assault, another tragic loss of a young life. My thoughts at this time are with the family and friends of the young man who has died.

"We certainly need to understand the reasons for this sad spate of stabbings, but there can be no excuses. It must be made clear that carrying a knife in suspicious circumstances will lead to a prison sentence."

  • Anyone with information should can contact police on 020 8721 4205 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
  • To read a description of the suspects click here.