The former head teacher of Aya Hachem, who was tragically shot dead in Blackburn on Sunday has paid tribute to the 'intelligent young lady who came to the UK looking for a better life'.

Diane Atkinson, who was Aya's head teacher at Blackburn Central High School, told the BBC: "Aya fled a war-torn zone as a refugee and came to the UK looking for a better life.

"She arrived with very little English and was soon inducted with BCHS, as we call ourselves, the family, and Blackburn.

"And she was a very, very intelligent young lady who very, very quickly picked up the command of English and worked incredibly hard to become the very, very best person she could be.

"It's very tragic and this weekend, as a community, we have been very saddened and devastated at her loss and such a waste of a wonderful, wonderful young lady who had so much to offer and had such great aspirations to help other people."

Police launched a major investigation after Aya was shot in broad daylight on Sunday as she was out shopping close to the Lidl supermarket on King Street in Blackburn.

She was taken to hospital but was sadly pronounced dead a short time later, and a subsequent post-mortem examination revealed that Aya died as a result of a gunshot wound to her chest.

Six people have now been arrested in connection with the murder of the 19-year-old student.

Lancashire Telegraph:

On Monday, three men aged 39, 33 and 36 were arrested on suspicion of murder.

And on Tuesday evening, two men aged 31 and 35 were arrested on suspicion of murder, and a man aged 29 was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

All the men are from the Blackburn area and remain in custody.

Police do not believe Aya was the intended target of the shooting and said that shots were fired from a light silver/green Toyota Avensis as it drove past her, with one striking her and killing her.

The Avensis, registration number SV53 UBP, was recovered by police on Sunday on Wellington Road.

Senior Investigating Officer, Det Supt Andy Cribbin from Lancashire Constabulary’s Force Major Investigation Team (FMIT) said: "While we have now arrested a number of people as part of this investigation our enquiries are very much on-going and we continue to have a large team of officers and staff working around the clock to find out who was responsible for Aya’s death.

"Our determination to get justice for her family remains undimmed.

"Our thoughts are very much with Aya’s loved ones and her family are being supported by specially trained officers.

“I would like to thank those who have come forward to assist the investigation so far and I would continue to ask that anyone who has any information, however insignificant they may think it is, to get in touch.

"This is an absolutely tragic loss of a young life and we need to find out what happened – you may hold the key to help us do that so please don’t hesitate to contact us.

“We know a number of videos of the incident are on social media and it is important that if people are aware of any footage that they formally report this to us if they haven’t already done so as they are potential evidence.

"We would also ask people, even if they are well intentioned, not to share these videos out of respect for Aya and her family.

“Similarly, I would urge people not to speculate online about the cause of or motivation for the incident and to instead share what they know with us, as their information could prove vital.”

A police presence remains in the area around the shooting whilst enquiries continue.

The incident is not being treated as terrorism-related or a racially-motivated.

Any information or video footage can be sent in to us via the major incident portal at

Anybody 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