Two men have been charged with the murder of a 19-year-old law student who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting.
Innocent passer-by Aya Hachem, 19, was hit by one of several shots fired from a vehicle as she walked to a supermarket near her home in Blackburn, Lancashire, on Sunday. She died from a single wound to the chest.
Feroz Suleman, 39, and Abubakir Satia, 31, both from Blackburn, have been charged with her murder.
Police believe Ms Hachem was not the intended target of the attack, which took place in broad daylight on a busy main road near a Lidl supermarket in the town centre.
Aya Hachem (left), who was a trustee with the Children’s Society, had been just 100 yards from her home when she was shot and killed on King Street (right, Ms Hachem, wearing a white top, stands a few yards from the Toyota which slowed beside her before several shots were fired on Sunday)
Police have arrested a total of 13 people in connection with the incident.
Aya’s father Ismail Hachem said he had hoped his family would be safe in Britain after fleeing Lebanon more than a decade ago.
Mr Hachem had tried to call his daughter repeatedly when she did not return from the supermarket and did not know where she was until police came to his home later.
‘I start crying … cause all my dreams, Aya,’ Mr Hachem told BBC Asian Network.
‘I thought 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, died in hospital a short time after emergency services were called to the scene in King Street at around 3pm.
She was the eldest of four siblings.
Mr Hachem, arrived in the UK ten years ago looking for safety as an asylum seeker.
According to family friends, he had been shot in crossfire in Lebanon and moved to England hoping for a new life.
He spent nine years as an asylum seeker before gaining British citizenship last year.
Ms Hachem’s former headteacher at Blackburn Central High School, Diane Atkinson, told the BBC: ‘She fled a war-torn zone as a refugee and came to the UK looking for a better life.
Feroz Suleman, 39, (pictured, undated image) and Abubakir Satia, 31, both from Blackburn, have been charged with murder
Forensic police officers were pictured at the scene in Blackburn following the death of Ms Hachem
‘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.’
In 2010, Lebanon had faced a tense border clash with Israel in the disputed Golan Heights territory that killed four people.
The fighting followed on from the 2006 Lebanon War in the same region that left hundreds dead, and a 17-month period of political instability in the country which culminated in the 2008 conflict involving Hezbollah militants.
Ms Hachem’s former school paid tribute to her as ‘a beautiful young girl who fled her home country in search for a better life in the UK’.
A long-term family friend, Luky Hussein, said the shooting brought back the horrors of war for Mr Hachem.
University of Salford student Aya Hachem (pictured) died shortly after she was shot from a car window in Blackburn, Lancashire at around 3pm on Sunday
‘They fled Lebanon for the war with people threatening to kill him,’ he said. ‘Coming from something like this to the UK and now his daughter gets shot. This is history repeating itself. I can’t imagine what he must be going through.
‘I’m sure it brings it all back for him. He’s got a bullet mark in his back, he was shot while he was living in Lebanon. He got caught in crossfire once.’
Hardworking Mr Hachem would volunteer at Mr Hussein’s family takeaway in return for food – while he was banned from working as an asylum seeker.
‘The struggles he has been through, he only got granted citizenship last year,’ Mr Hussein said. ‘Four times his application got refused. His two younger children were born in the UK.
‘Finally last year he got his citizenship – and now poor Aya has been shot.’
Ms Hachem (pictured), who was a young trustee with the Children’s Society, had been close to her home when she was shot and killed on King Street
Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Andy Cribbin, from Lancashire Constabulary’s major investigation team, said: ‘This is a very fast moving investigation, with information coming in from various places which we are reacting swiftly to.
‘I continue to appeal to people who think they know who was involved in the tragic shooting of Aya but haven’t spoken to us yet to do the right thing and make contact.
‘Aya, the innocent victim in all of this, along with her family, deserve justice and it is people telling us what they know that will help us find the people or person responsible.’
A number of people were travelling in the light green/silver Toyota Avensis from which the shots were fired close to the Lidl store.
The vehicle was abandoned a short time later in nearby Wellington Road and seized for forensic examination.