The family and a close friend of 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne-Blake have paid public tribute to her for the first time as they join police in a new appeal for public information in a bid to find those responsible for her senseless murder.
Tanesha, was only 17 when she was part of a group of people who were shot at from a vehicle in Chalgrove Road, N17 shortly before 21:35 hours on Monday, 2 April 2018, tragically she did not survive the attack and died at the scene.
Tanesha died a mere 13 weeks before she was due to turn 18.
Akin Akintola, an Engagement Co-ordinator at Bruce Grove Youth Space in Haringey spent a lot of time with Tanesha and knew her through the youth centre where he works. Today he paid tribute to Tanesha, someone who he saw as a daughter as he joined officers investigating the attack to make a plea for help from anyone who can shed light on the terrible crime that took her young life.
Akin said: "Tanesha was a young person who used to attend the youth centre that I work at, since she was 12/13 years old. In the last year before she was tragically taken from us, Tanesha became a volunteer and became a mentor on the More Than Mentor programme that has been running since October 2017.
"She was like a daughter to me; Tanesha was such a beautiful person inside and out. Anyone that had the opportunity to meet her would say she had such a good heart."
Akin who has worked with young people in Haringey for over 15 years and has been passionate about supporting young people and encouraging positive change in their lives urged any members of the public who knows anything to look to their consciences and come forward to assist the police to help them bring the perpetrators to account.
He said :"Tanesha was a vital member of the youth centre who introduced a lot of her friends to the service, which we were grateful for. She had a bubbly personality and always had a beautiful big smile on her face. Losing Tanesha is unexplainable and took a big hit on the youth centre and left a big hole in all our hearts."
Tanesha's mother said: "Tanesha was the sweetest, caring and loving daughter anyone could have wished for. She was the most loyal friend and had friends in all areas of London and everyone idolised her and wanted to be her friend. I remember how much she lit up a room and how much presence she had.
She was a much loved sister by all seven siblings and had a great relationship with them all. She was a family girl and enjoyed spending time at home with us; these are the moments I will treasure forever.”
“Tanesha was a much loved member of the community and attended youth space where she was mentoring other young children. She was hoping to progress to level two in September 2018, to become a qualified youth worker.”
“Tanesha was born on 9th July 2000 and was taken from us on 2nd April 2018, just 13 weeks before her 18th birthday.”
“As a family we were looking forward to celebrating Tanesha turning 18 and reaching this milestone in her life. She was so excited to finally become an adult and was looking forward to going out with family and friends and travelling to Jamaica to visit her dad. Never did we think that we would celebrate her 18th birthday by her graveside. We chose to remember her 18th by holding a street BBQ Party on the road she passed away. So many birthdays and other life events have been taken from us and we remain devastated.”
“Our first Christmas without Tanesha was devastating and extremely hard. It didn’t feel like Christmas without her here. Tanesha loved Christmas with her youngest siblings and enjoyed spending time with us all. As big as she was, she always opened one present on Christmas Eve; a tradition we will never be able to do again. This Christmas we spent our morning by her graveside as a family. Something I never thought I’d ever have to do.”
“Tanesha wanted to become a youth worker and was excited to progress to level two in September. She loved working with children and helping people with disabilities, this is something she excelled at and as her mother I was extremely proud of her. Tanesha loved hair and beauty, and was well known for doing family and friends hair. "
Tanesha's family have also released new images of her, one when she was 10-years-old doing the skyride which was a bicycle ride to stop knife and gun crime and another when she was 12-years-old doing the march of value life to stop knife and gun crime.
Her family have also released footage of her when she was 17 taken a few months before she died.
In her plea for information to help police catch her killers, Tanesha's mother also said: "Myself and Tanesha were best friends as well as mother and daughter. The impact of her death is long lasting and still doesn’t feel real. It feels as if I’m living in a dream and she’ll be coming back. The impact on her dad and siblings has been indescribable too. There is a huge hole in our family that will never be filled. As a family we only ask if anyone does have any information, then please come forward. We would not wish what we are going through on any other family. "
Reverend Nims Obunge MBE DL a senior pastor of Freedom Ark Church, who conducted Tanesha’s funeral and has been supporting Tanisha's family said:
“The death of Tanesha has been a tragic and needless loss to her family, friends and our community. Those who perpetrated such evil in our society must not be allowed to continue to destroy our sense of safety and security.
Since Tanesha’s death, I have watched her family with dignified defiance rise up to create a legacy in step with her passion and life journey. The Tanesha Melbourne-Blake Foundation has been set up with support from Haringey Council, friends and others to provide mentoring to young people thereby giving them a better chance at succeeding in their hopes and aspirations.
I ask us all to stand with this family not only in their quest for truth and justice as to who killed Tanesha but also to support their fight for the future of the next generation.”
Detectives from the Met's Homicide and Major Crime Command have been working hard to establish how many people were involved in the shooting and who fired the fatal shot that killed Tanesha.
The vehicle used in the shooting was a grey/silver Vauxhall Meriva people carrier with the registration number of KS56NKG. It was found burnt out in the Barnet area on 7 April, five days after Tanesha was fatally shot.
Detective Inspector Beverley Kofi, from the investigation team, said: “We believe the passenger of that vehicle fired the fatal shot that killed Tanesha. We need anyone with information on that vehicle to come forward and assist us with our investigation.
"Tanesha was an innocent young girl; she had no gang affiliations whatsoever. Her life was cut tragically short by the senseless actions of a group of people who were intent on committing violence that night. Tanesha's death has left her family completely devastated. Her loss is not only felt by them but by her friends and the wider community in Tottenham, many of whom are young people who she helped to steer them away from violence.
“We are very grateful that Tanesha's mother and her friend, both of whom are still grieving, have been willing to come together with us today to strengthen our fresh appeal to the public for any witnesses, or any information, that might possibly assist us.
"I'm certain someone in the community has information. I can assure you anything you provide will be treated in the strictest confidence.
If you are worried about contacting police, please think about Tanesha's family, her loss is something they will never get over, we need people to come forward and do the right thing and provide us with that vital piece of information that will bring those responsible to justice."
Anyone with information on the shooting should contact the incident room on 0208 358 0100 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
+ A 30-year-old man [A] who was arrested on Friday, 6 April at an address in the E9 area on suspicion of murder was released under investigation in connection with this incident.