Elle Edwards was fatally shot shortly after the atmosphere in a pub became tense when gang members turned up for Christmas Eve drinks – with regulars walking out, fearing trouble was brewing.
Miss Edwards, 26, died after being hit in the head when a gunman opened fire at a crowd of revellers outside the Lighthouse Inn, Wallasey Village, Wirral.
Today a 31-year-old man from Tranmere was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder. He is currently in custody where he will be questioned by detectives later.
Miss Edwards was not the intended target in the shooting and it is believed that the innocent beautician was caught in the crossfire of feuding drug gangs, responsible for a series of tit-for-tat shootings and violent incidents on the peninsular in recent months.
One drinker told The Daily Mirror: ‘The lads involved are not from this area. That’s why a lot of the locals left about 8pm because they could feel the tension’.
Ian Critchley, Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, revealed officers had yet to find the weapon – believed to be a semi-automatic pistol – which was used to fire up to 12 shots in quick succession. Miss Edwards was killed and four others were shot, including the intended target.
26-year-old Elle Edwards died in a shooting at the Lighthouse Inn in Wallasey Village, near Liverpool, on Christmas Eve
Police officers at the Lighthouse Inn after the shooting. Witnesses said the atmosphere had turned sour when gang members arrived
Another witness said one young man was shot in the midriff. She said: ‘The manager ran to the lad and was pushing his stomach down. All the staff were helping. It was absolutely horrible. Everyone is devastated.’
Merseyside Police today revealed a 31-year-old man from Tranmere was taken into custody on suspicion of conspiracy to murder and is currently being questioned by detectives.
A spokesman for the force said: ‘We have arrested a third person in connection with the murder of 26 year-old Elle Edwards at the Lighthouse Inn in Wallasey on 24th December.
‘A 31-year-old man from Tranmere has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder. He is currently in custody where he will be questioned by detectives.
‘We have been given additional time to question a 30-year-old man from Tranmere, arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, and a 19-year-old woman from Rock Ferry arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder and they both remain in custody. An investigation into Elle’s death remains ongoing.’
Police are still searching for the gun used in the shooting and have appealed to anyone who might be looking after the weapon to give it up.
It came as detectives have applied for an extension to continue questioning two suspects arrested on Boxing Day evening.
A 30-year-old man from Tranmere is in custody on suspicion of murder and a 19-year-old woman from Rock Ferry are being held on a charge of conspiracy to murder.
Forensics officers in the bar, which was sprayed with bullets
Merseyside’s police chief has pledged that her force will be ‘relentless’ in bringing those responsible for the killing of Elle Edwards to justice. Pictured: Floral tributes at the pub yesterday
Officers had 24 hours to question them before they applied to a magistrate for an extension of up to 96 hours, meaning that they will have to either charge or release the suspects by Friday.
Miss Edwards’s grief-stricken father stood in silence this week at the scene as he viewed floral tributes left for his daughter.
Tim Edwards was accompanied by his son and grandson as he looked at the dozens of bouquets left outside the Lighthouse Inn. He hugged a well wisher who laid flowers at the scene and wiped tears from his eyes as he left.
The road leading to the pub remained cordoned off. Revellers who had parked in the pub car park have been unable to retrieve their vehicles as it is also sealed off by a cordon of blue tape.
Empty beer bottles still stand on the cluster of outside tables where the 26-year-old beautician was killed.
Merseyside Police Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley said the investigation into the ‘most callous and appalling murder’ of Miss Edwards was ‘relentless’ and said anyone involved – not just the shooter – would be brought to justice.
Elle’s father Tim Edwards, pictured, visited the scene earlier this week to inspect the hundreds of floral tributes left in honour of his daughter
Mr Edwards, pictured right, was embraced by a member of the public on the street just yards from where his daughter was killed
Tim Edward, pictured with his daughter Elle, while on holiday together
Tim Edwards visits the scene of his daughter’s death at the Lighthouse Inn in Wallasey Village on Boxing Day to lay floral tributes
The Lighthouse pub in Wallasey today, where the shooting happened on Christmas Eve
One of the floral tributes described Elle as ‘radiant’ and ‘an angel’
At a press conference today, he revealed police have yet to recover the gun used in the shooting – thought to be a semi-automatic pistol. At least 12 bullets were fired in a matter of seconds.
Miss Edwards was struck in the head and four men – including one who was understood to be the intended target – injured.
The police chief appealed for anyone who might be hiding the gun to come forward.
Speaking outside the Lighthouse Inn he said:’ We will not rest until we bring the people responsible to justice.
‘By that I mean the person who pulled the trigger of the gun in the most indiscriminate way, anyone responsible for arranging, facilitating or harbouring this individual or continues to withhold information on who has done this, or where the weapon is that led to this tragic fatality.’
He said his officers were ‘determined to find justice for Elle and her family’.
He said: ‘Not for the first time on Merseyside we have seen fatalities particularly those caught up who were in the right place at the right time – the offenders were not. They were doing the wrong things and they cannot be tolerated in our society.’
The Deputy Chief Constable he made a point of saying police would target organised crime in the area.
Mr Critchley said investigators were working ’round the clock’ to work out what happened before, during and after the attack.
He said: ‘We have made great strides forward but I am appealing for further information.’
He said work was ongoing to establish whether the weapon used in the attack, which injured four men, could be connected to any other incidents.
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley addressed the media from the scene yesterday. He said a 28-year-old man from Beechwood in Wirral remains in a critical condition following the shooting
A 28-year-old man from Beechwood in Wirral remains in a critical condition following the shooting, Mr Critchley said.
Asked whether the attack could be linked to an ongoing feud between gangs in Wirral, Mr Critchley said yesterday: ‘We have seen over a number of months some level of escalation here.
‘There has been real relentless activity in relation to the arrest of a number of people who are now behind bars or remanded in custody, significant seizures of drugs and weapons.’
He urged families of those involved in organised crime to come forward and said: ‘You have blood on your hands too if you’re a bystander or if you want to live off the profits being gained.’
Police have said Miss Edwards was not believed to be the intended target of the attack.
Mr Critchley said: ‘Over the last few years we’ve seen the lowest number of [firearm] discharges in Merseyside but one discharge is one too many and clearly this is not the first time in Merseyside we’ve seen fatalities, particularly those caught up who were in the right place at the right time, the offenders were not – they were doing the wrong things that can’t be tolerated in our society.’
He said officers would work ‘relentlessly’ to find out who was responsible.
He said: ‘We will not rest until we bring the offenders to justice.’
The police chief said: ‘Our investigation will continue over many weeks and months to remove anyone involved in organised criminality, to remove guns from the streets.
‘Not to just remove the organised criminal but to bring to justice people who harbour them and who are happy to use the profits to live in a lifestyle that comes from preying on other people. We will remove the cash, the guns and people off the street.’
The police chief said Miss Edwards’s family will now suffer their loss for the rest of their lives, adding: ‘I cannot comprehend what they are going through at this moment in time.’
Her father visited the scene of the shooting with his son and grandson shortly before DCC Critchley spoke.
He stood with his head bowed as he read many of the floral tributes that had been left outside the pub.
The parents of Elle Edwards left a heartbreaking tribute to her after she was killed at the Lighthouse Inn in Wallasey Village on Christmas Eve. Her parents wrote: ‘To my beautiful Elle, you are the light of my life, you will never be gone’
Friends of Miss Edwards have since told of the horrors of the shooting at the packed pub on Christmas Eve, describing how she had been singing and dancing before hearing bangs ‘like fireworks’ before they saw her lying on the floor.
Jess, a friend who was with her when she was shot, told Sky News: ‘We went to go get a drink and we were at the bar and we just heard bangs, like fireworks. We had been dancing and singing and now she’s on the floor.’
‘We were so happy. It happened so fast, I can’t get it out of my head. I wish we could have done more, but there was nothing else we could have done.’
Miss Edwards’s sister Lucy lives in Dubai but had flown home to celebrate Christmas with her family. She left the pub before her sister was shot dead.
In an emotional post on Instagram, she said: ‘My beautiful sister, my bestest friend, my second mummy and my rock. I love and miss you so, so much already. My Elle May.’
Friend Jess said: ‘People were around her trying to help her — but you can’t do anything. I just felt grateful that I am still here but felt guilty because I was with my family on Christmas and she wasn’t.’
Referring to Miss Edwards’s sister leaving the pub early, she added: ‘It plays on your mind — whether she should have gone home too.’
Meg, another friend who did not give her surname, said: ‘We had been dancing and singing. I’ve got videos of us all I can’t stop watching. We were so happy.’
Asked about memories they had of their friend, they described her as ‘so funny’, adding: ‘There was never a time when we’ve been out where we’ve not had a ball.’
Miss Edwards’s father Tim also visited the scene on Monday to lay flowers among the growing sea of tributes left outside the pub, as her family described her as ‘the light of our life’.
‘To my beautiful Elle, you are the light of my life, you will never be gone,’ her parents wrote.
That day police and community leaders gathered to speak with and support residents of Wallasey Village.
Officers were joined by local councillors, representatives of Wirral Council and the office of the area’s MP Dame Angela Eagle ‘to show their support to residents during this tragic time’.
They called at people’s homes in the roads surrounding the village ‘to provide reassurance and give residents an opportunity to raise any concerns they may have’.
Jess (right), a friend who was with Miss Edwards when she was shot, told Sky News: ‘We went to go get a drink and we were at the bar and we just heard bangs, like fireworks’