Teen’s death sparks African gangs debate
LAA Chol's heartbroken family say she was a "goofy and outgoing" university student who aspired to be a lawyer before her young life was cut cruelly short over the weekend.
But her brutal stabbing at an out-of-control party in Melbourne's EQ Tower in the early hours of Saturday morning, has sparked another debate about "African gangs" in the Victorian capital.
The 19-year-old's grieving family said she had no connection to gangs and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton - who has previously said people in Melbourne were "scared to go out at restaurants" because of African gang violence - says the death points to a "major law and order problem" in Victoria.
"This is a tragic and needless loss of a young life," he said in a statement to Fairfax Media.
"There is a major law and order problem in Victoria and more people are going to be hurt until the rule of law is enforced by the Victorian Government.
"We don't have these problems with Sudanese gangs in NSW or Queensland."
The comment comes as detectives are still hunting the killer, while the 19-year-old university student's friends and family pay tribute to the "happy and lovely" teenager.
Her heartbroken mother and a cousin have spoken of their grief and loss, calling for "justice" for the young aspiring lawyer.
"I'm speechless … I don't know what I'm going to do without her," her mother, Ojwanga Abalo told the Herald Sun, while cousin, Nyawie Dau, said, "We need justice for Laa. They need to find whoever did this."
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Commander Tim Hansen, of the North West Metro region, told reporters she died from "assault related injuries" when a group of people crashed a party she was attending. Neighbours reportedly heard "horrendous screaming" as Ms Chol was reportedly stabbed to death.
The EQ Tower opened in May last year and has quickly become a popular location for both tourists and locals wanting somewhere cheap and convenient to stay in the CBD.
Police say 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 on the 56th floor, 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."
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."
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."
Skye United soccer club on Sunday posted on social media: "Laa was an integral part of our women's team since joining in March this year. All our love, thoughts & prayers go out to Laa's family, friends & teammates."
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.