Laa Chol was killed in a Melbourne apartment building on the weekend. Source: Instagram
Laa Chol was killed in a Melbourne apartment building on the weekend. Source: Instagram

Teen arrested after young woman's death

A TEENAGE boy has been arrested over the death of a young woman who was killed in a Melbourne apartment at a party over the weekend.

Victoria Police issued a statement this afternoon confirming that a 17-year-old male from Sunshine North had been taken into custody in relation to the "fatal assault" on A'Beckett St, at about 5.15am on Saturday.

The youth was being interviewed by the Homicide Squad and no further details were available, police said.

Laa Chol, 19, died after reportedly being stabbed at a party in EQ Tower, in Melbourne's CBD.

The attack was initially believed to be gang related, but her family has thrown cold water on those rumours, saying Ms Chol had no connection to any "so-called gangs".

"[She was] not a partygoer, she just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time," they told The Age.

Commander Stuart Bateson earlier told 3AW the young woman's death had nothing to do with Sudanese gang violence, as had been suggested by some politicians. "When we start to make an issue that is bigger than what it is and when we start to racialise and we start to target this specific community, that leads to some unintended consequences," he said.

"That means a whole community feels vilified. They often feel frightened to go out in public in groups, they're shouted out." Premier Daniel Andrews told ABC radio Ms Chol's family "deserve fundamentally better than what they've been given over these past 12 or 24 hours". "I don't think her family would be getting very much comfort from this sort of discussion," he said of debates linking the death to gang violence.

Shocked friends have remembered Ms Chol as a quiet person and a "beautiful soul".

Commander Tim Hansen, of the North West Metro region, previously told reporters she died from "assault related injuries" when a group of people crashed a party she was attending. Neighbours reportedly heard "horrendous screaming" and there are unverified reports Ms Chol was stabbed to death.

Police have spent the past three days hunting the suspected attacker.

EQ Tower was the scene of wild parties before the teen’s death. Picture: Nicole Garmston.
EQ Tower was the scene of wild parties before the teen’s death. Picture: Nicole Garmston.

Police were called to an address on the 56th floor at the EQ Tower on A'Beckett Street about 5.15am on Saturday following reports of a woman suffering serious injuries. Paramedics attended but the victim died at the scene.

Mr Hansen said Ms Chol was part of a group who had rented a short term stay apartment in the building. During the course of the night, a "second group" arrived at the address and "a dispute of some nature occurred resulting in the victim being assaulted".

"A number of persons have immediately left that party," Mr Hansen said.

"Police arrived to what was a fairly chaotic scene."

Laa Chol died after an early morning row broke out between two groups of African Australians.
Laa Chol died after an early morning row broke out between two groups of African Australians.

One neighbour, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told reporters she heard "horrendous screaming" coming from the building in the early hours of Saturday morning.

"They were shouting and screaming and the girl's scream was incredibly loud … just screeching," she said.

"Normally I would call the police but they went off down the road.

"But it's not unusual coming from this building.

"So much goes on in the building in the middle of the night with people drunk."

Police have expressed confidence in finding the attacker responsible for Ms Chol's death.

"My understanding is this wasn't a random attack," Mr Hansen said.

"There's no sign of forced entry but we're trying to clarify what brought [the second group] there."

Police investigate a crime scene at the EQ Tower on A'Beckett Street in Melbourne, Saturday, July 21, 2018. Picture: AAP Image/Wayne Taylor.
Police investigate a crime scene at the EQ Tower on A'Beckett Street in Melbourne, Saturday, July 21, 2018. Picture: AAP Image/Wayne Taylor.

A family friend told the Herald Sun Ms Chol was "a very quiet person".

" … She kept her family together, she was the eldest sibling," the friend said. "She's not known for causing trouble, she doesn't rent hotels or go to parties, this was a one-off."

On social media, friends paid tribute to "a beautiful soul".

"Never thought Friday would be my last time on earth seeing you," Shushu Kishak wrote on Facebook.

"You were such a beautiful soul & didn't deserve any of this … forever remembering the memories we had.

"RIP my beautiful princess I love you."

Earlier, at least 12 people were assisting the Homicide squad with inquiries, police said. It's not yet clear if the two groups were previously known to each other. Mr Hansen said the only known link so far was that both groups were of "African-Australian heritage" and around the same age.

Forensic investigators search for evidence outside the EQ Tower. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Forensic investigators search for evidence outside the EQ Tower. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Another resident said that at the beginning of the night he saw a few girls in the EQ Tower lobby and a group of young men "running and yelling" outside around 4am or 5am.

CCTV footage from the apartment building is currently being reviewed by authorities as police seek to locate the second group.

Nine News has reported that several nearby residents heard an argument between a man and woman around 2am in Anthony Street, close to the apartment block where Ms Chol was found.

The entrance of EQ Tower on A'Beckett Street is seen on July 23, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images.
The entrance of EQ Tower on A'Beckett Street is seen on July 23, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images.

About a quarter of the EQ Tower's 633 apartments are short-term stays, according to Melbourne Real Estate which manages rentals in the A'Beckett St address.

One of EQ's residents, Sean, said this was a growing problem in the tower and that a death was "a tragedy that sadly has been building and building over the last few months".

"What we're seeing increasingly is these parties of youths getting out of control," he said.

"They seem to come and go at short notice. Many of them are obviously intoxicated or on other substances.

"As residents, we feel intimidated that we're unable to ask them to keep the noise down."

The Financial Review reported that EQ has been swamped by Airbnb, which along with Booking.com and Expedia lists dozens of rooms owned by investors in the tower.

An Airbnb style short term rental was allegedly trashed by African Australian youths in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray in May, as was a Werribee house last December

The 65-storey EQ Tower is popular as a short term stay with rooms starting from approximately $125 per night.

Outside the building on Saturday morning, forensic investigators appeared focused on a green Honda parked on the street and sifted through a rubbish bin where they were seen retrieving a pair of jeans.

 

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin

 

Laa Chol was killed after a clash between two groups of people at a short-stay CBD apartment rental on July 21, 2017.
Laa Chol was killed after a clash between two groups of people at a short-stay CBD apartment rental on July 21, 2017.
Laa Chol has been remembered as a “quiet” and “beautiful” person.
Laa Chol has been remembered as a “quiet” and “beautiful” person.
Police were crawling the area after a woman was killed in an apartment building in A'Beckett Melbourne. Picture: Nicole Garmston.
Police were crawling the area after a woman was killed in an apartment building in A'Beckett Melbourne. Picture: Nicole Garmston.
A Nike slide found at the entrance of the building is bagged as evidence. Picture: Nicole Garmston.
A Nike slide found at the entrance of the building is bagged as evidence. Picture: Nicole Garmston.


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