A 14-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of an RAF cadet, also 14, who was stabbed to death in an inner-city neighbourhood.
Cadet Nathaniel Shani was described as the ‘kindest soul’ by friends as his heartbroken family paid tribute to the boy who ‘never failed to make people laugh’.
Police said officers from GMP Major Incident Team charged a 14-year-old boy with Nathaniel’s murder today, after he and another boy, 13, were arrested yesterday.
The 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was remanded to appear at Manchester Magistrates Court today with a further hearing set to take place at Manchester Crown Square Court tomorrow.
The other boy, 13, who was also arrested on suspicion of murder, has been released on bail.
Nathaniel was killed in the Harpurhey neighbourhood of north Manchester, where he lived with his mother and sister, at about 6pm on Friday. Further details of Friday evening’s tragedy have not been revealed.
RAF cadet Nathaniel Shani (pictured), described as the ‘kindest soul’ by friends, has been stabbed to death in a Manchester neighbourhood
Nathaniel was allegedly murdered in the Harpurhey neighbourhood (police pictured at the scene) of north Manchester, where he lived with his mother and sister, at about 6pm on Friday
A mourner lays a floral tribute to teenage boy Nathaniel Shani who was stabbed to death
In a statement, his grieving family said: ‘Nathaniel was a best friend to many, he never failed to make people laugh. Nathaniel was very kind, caring and always thinking of others.
‘He was polite and the most loving person. He would always put other people first without a thought. He was an amazing brother and son to his parents and siblings.
‘Our hearts are left broken. Rest in Paradise to the kindest soul.’
Further tributes were given by the national RAF Air Cadets, which said the ‘hearts and thoughts’ of all members ‘go out to the family of Nathaniel Shani’ – a member of its Manchester Wing.
Air Commodore Tony Keeling, commandant of the RAF Air Cadets, added: ‘I’m sure everyone in the Air Cadets will join me in sending sincere condolences to the family of Cadet Nathaniel Shani, who lost his life in tragic circumstance.
‘We will provide the very best support we can to his family and the volunteers and cadets at his Squadron.’
A relative of the teenager, who had an elder brother and sister, said: ‘We’re heartbroken. He was such a wonderful boy.
‘What has happened is just hard to take in – how can a 14-year-old with his whole life ahead of him die like that?
‘There are a lot of things that happen with children and young people in this age group (that) they don’t tell you about. As a parent, you don’t know what is going on until something happens.’
Witnesses described seeing the teenager being given CPR after emergency services arrived at the scene outside a row of shops.
Carly Andrew, 33, said: ‘I heard the emergency vehicles arriving and when I looked over I could see a lad on the ground being given CPR. I had to send my daughter inside the house because I didn’t want her see it.
‘I think it was police officers who tried to save him at first, and then the paramedics arrived.’
Mary Agnew, 61, who also saw attempts to resuscitate the teenager, added: ‘There seemed to be four people working on him but they obviously couldn’t save him. I feel so sorry for the boy’s mum.’
One school friend Alice Ungureanu, 14, described him as the ‘class clown’, adding: ‘He always made us laugh and liked joking around, and he was also kind.’
Tributes left to Nathaniel at the scene in Harpurhey, Manchester yesterday
Forensic officers at the scene of the stabbing in an area of Manchester blighted by gangs
As floral tributes continued to be left yesterday, and prayers were said at local churches, donations on an online Go Fund Me page set up by Gaynor Lang, whose daughter was a friend of Nathaniel, reached £1,600.
Nathaniel, who attended the nearby Manchester Communication Academy, was described in messages left with floral tributes as a ‘kind’ and ‘happy’ boy ‘who always made people laugh’.
Ms Lang said the loss of ‘a young bright kind and caring boy’ had ‘left so many people heartbroken’.
Paying tribute to Nathaniel, one neighbour, who didn’t wish to be named, said: ‘He was a nice lad, never any bother.
‘He was always friendly when I spoke to him and got on well with people. Everyone who knew him is just in shock.’
Other neighbours described Nathaniel as ‘polite’ and ‘caring’ and close to his family.
Local councillor Pat Karney said: ‘Everyone in Harpurhey is heartbroken for this family. We can’t imagine the pain and the anguish they are going through.’
And anti-knife crime campaigner Jade Akoum, the sister of Manchester private schoolboy Yousef Makki who was stabbed to death in 2019 by a friend at the age of 17, said: ‘I think for me it hit home as my own son is 14 and each time it happens it seems the ages of the people carrying knives are getting younger and younger.’
Mrs Akoum called for stricter sentences for knife crime, to provide a greater deterrent, and better education in schools.
She added: ‘If the justice system was more strict, i.e. with tougher sentences for knife offences, I think we would see a huge decrease in lives lost and young people carrying knives.
‘Our hearts go out to Nathaniel’s family and friends we know what they are going through and it’s tragic to see kids killing kids.’
Police have revealed no further details about how Nathaniel was attacked and say they are ‘keeping all available lines of enquiry open’.
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Boyce, of Greater Manchester Police, said: ‘This incident that has seen a young boy sadly die has understandably rocked the local community in Harpurhey.
‘The force and I would like to pass on our condolences to Nathaniel’s loved ones and we will continue to support them at this sad time.’
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