Vicar speaks of shock after schoolgirl's murder

A Birmingham church is opening its doors to the local community following the horrific killing of a schoolgirl on a bus on Thursday morning.

Christina Edkins, 16, was stabbed to death during the morning rush hour while on her way to Leasowes High School in Halesowen.

St Peter's Church, in nearby Lapal, will be open until 9pm today, and between 8am and 9pm tomorrow and over the weekend for people to pray and reflect.

The Reverend Mike Rutter, vicar of St Peter's, said: "I was shocked to hear of the stabbing of Christina Edkins. It's a terrible tragedy and many in our community will be affected.

"We are ensuring St Peter's Church in Lapal is open to enable anyone who wishes to come in, say a prayer, light a candle and sign a book of condolence.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Christina's family and friends at this difficult time."

West Midlands Police arrested a 22-year-old man nearby on suspicion of murder.

Counsellors were at Leasowes High School today to comfort pupils and staff.

The Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, also expressed his shock in a statement.

"My thoughts and prayers are with her bereft family and with all her friends at Leasowes High School, in Halesown," he said.

"The loss of a young life in these tragic circumstances raises many questions about our respect for life and about safeguarding children in public places."