Early estimates reported by the BBC suggested “hundreds”.
But with the northbound carriageway of Wellesley Road closed to traffic for the evening, gradually people began gathering in their thousands near the spot of the latest, shocking tragedy to befall Croydon.
Our reporters attending last night’s vigil for Elianne Andam, starting just as dusk began to settle over the town centre, close to the very spot where the 15-year-old schoolgirl was cruelly cut down a week earlier, suggested that there could be as many as 3,000 people, many of them wearing something white and carrying a lighted candle, as the girl’s family had requested, to represent her being the light of their lives.
There were the usual civic figures in the crowd, a bishop, senior police officers, councillors from all parties.
But above all there were ordinary people, mums, dads, son and daughters, all gathered to try to show some sympathy and solidarity with Elianne’s grieving family.
There in the crowd was Stormzy, standing close to the bereaved family, accompanied, it appeared, by members of his own family and church.
Dorcas Andam, Elianne’s mother, paid tribute to her “smart” and “charismatic” daughter.
“She brought joy to so many… She was an amazing, beautiful, girl. She loved and touched lives around her.
“I can’t believe we won’t be seeing her anymore. I can’t believe she won’t be there to complain about her teenage activities.
“We should be planning her prom after Year 11. She wanted to be a lawyer, and had so much to live for. It’s a sad day for the whole family. Now we are planning her funeral.”
There was a two-minute silence, observed by the people in the crowd solemnly raising their candles.
And, quietly at first, softly, they all sang Amazing Grace.
There were speeches, with all the platitudes that you might expect from the same people who have been saying the same things for years.
But still the youth of London are dying on our streets.
Elianne was the 15th teenager to be killed in the capital in 2023. A 16th young fatality has been reported in the seven days since.
Elianne Andam was attacked at a bus stop on Wellesley Road on Wednesday, September 27, as she was doing nothing much more than making her way to school.
A 17-year-old boy appeared at the Old Bailey on Tuesday charged with her murder. He is being held on remand until his trial in April.
Read more: Choir records a classic as fund-raiser in memory of Elianne
Listen to our podcast: 7 killings in 6 months: Croydon Insider on the lasting tragedies
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