On Monday evening, 14-year-old Dea-John Reid was reportedly subject to racial abuse before being stabbed to death in the Kingstanding area of Birmingham, England. 

According to West Midlands Police, the cruel attack took place after Dea-John and his friends were racially abused by a group of young boys and grown men. The Guardian reports the abuse directed at Dea-John included the use of the N-word.

Despite reports indicating racial slurs were used, Tuesday’s police statement states that they did not believe this attack was racially motivated—however, after apparent backlash, said police are now looking into the potential racial motivation behind the attack, which would ultimately class the stabbing and murder as a hate crime. That said, the West Midlands Police’s investigation did zero-in on the alleged attacker. 

Michael Shields, a 35-year-old man from Castle Bromwich, was arrested and remanded in custody following the attack. The police also highlighted that a 14-year-old boy and 38-year-old man were brought in for questioning in hopes of shedding light on the incident. Three additional people—including two men aged 36 and 33, and a 13-year-old boy—have faced no further action regarding the stabbing. 

A post mortem investigation revealed that Dea-John died due to a direct stab wound to the chest. Dea-John then collapsed in the street with the group fleeing the scene. Dea-John was pronounced dead a short time following the stabbing.

Dea-John’s family said in a statement: “This loss not only affects us but everyone Dea-John knew. We have lost a son, his siblings have lost a brother, and others have lost a friend. The passing of this incredibly talented young boy will be felt by us all. How many more mothers will have to mourn for their sons for this to stop?”

Local activist Desmond Jaddoo said he was disheartened at the police’s dismissal of the potential racial element of the murder, adding: “People are still uncomfortable talking about race in this country.” Following on from the wave of social justice and political upheaval last year in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement, the British justice system has faced backlash due to the lack of seriousness that racism and hate crimes are dealt with. 

Dea-John was a Year 9 pupil at the Harborne Academy in Birmingham. Because of the stabbing, the school has increased police presence in the local area to ensure the safety of students. The school is set to reopen on June 7. 

Shields, who is currently in custody, is set to appear before Birmingham Crown Court this Friday.

May Dea-John Reid rest in peace.