Detectives have called for gang members to come clean about the death of a teenager who was allegedly stabbed to death in a brutal attack.
Solomone Taufeulungaki, 15, died after he was allegedly attacked by a group of youths outside the Brimbank Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s west about 4pm on Tuesday.
He and his cousin were allegedly approached by a group of about 10 youths armed with knives.
Six boys, aged between 13 and 16, have charged with violent disorder and affray but no one has been charged with Solomone’s death.
Solomone Taufeulungaki was stabbed to death on Tuesday outside a busy shopping centre
Solomone Taufeulungaki (pictured), 15, and his cousin were allegedly approached by a group of eight-to-10 youths armed with knives
‘Detectives believe the fatal affray was as a result of tensions between two youth gangs in the western suburbs and have identified the gangs involved,’ Victoria Police said in a statement calling for public help on Sunday.
Detectives have been told of other incidents over the past few weeks, including a ‘significant altercation’ in Warringa Crescent, Hoppers Crossing on May 23, police said.
Investigators are also looking at an assault that occurred at the Brimbank Shopping Centre the day before Solomone was killed.
Detective Inspector Tim Day called on members of the groups involved to speak up for Solomone.
‘This is an act of senseless, cowardly and extreme violence in public and in daylight hours,’ he said in the statement.
‘… ‘We know there are members of the groups involved in Solomone’s death who are uncomfortable with what has happened and that the actions of a few have gone too far, and this is their time to speak up for him.’
Detectives believe some people have mobile phone footage of the fatal attack and are appealing for them to contact police.
Students from Victoria University Secondary College make their way to the memorial for Solomone Taufeulngaki outside Brimbank Shopping Centre
Mr and Mrs Taufeulungaki added a bunch of flowers to the makeshift shrine at the scene, before the couple pledged to forgive those responsible for killing their son
Officers also want to hear from drivers in the area between 3.30pm and 4.30pm on Tuesday who may have captured dashcam footage of the incident.
Hundreds of heartbroken mourners marched through the streets to honour Solomone’s memory on Friday night.
The formal procession began at Victoria University Secondary College in St Albans and concluded at Brimbank Shopping Centre, where he was killed.
Police kept a watchful eye on the emotional memorial on Friday after calls for vengeance flooded social media over the 15-year-old’s death.
But the stirring candlelight vigil led by members from the Tongan community remained peaceful and without incident.
Investigators are probing whether Mr Taufeulungaki was set upon by a gang called ‘The Brotherhood’ – or ‘BH’.
‘Rest In Love Toko. Actually speechless aye, all I know is that I will see you again,’ Mape Taufeulungaki (right) wrote alongside a picture with his brother Solomone (left)
A picture of Victim Solomone Taufeulngaki is seen at a makeshift shrine where he was fatally stabbed outside Brimbank Shopping Centre
A friend who was with Mr Taufeulungaki at the time of the alleged attack claims the group were carrying knives and baseball bats.
Both the victim and the alleged attackers reportedly went to Victoria University Secondary College.
‘From the time of the incident we turned our mind to the likelihood of retribution and reprisal attacks,’ Police Commander Tim Hansen said.
‘We are acutely aware of the risk these street gangs present to us, we see it.
‘We have a tailored person of interest program across Melbourne’s west and also across Melbourne’s southeast because we know there’s an interplay between these gangs.’
Family of Solomone Taufeulngaki, including his mother Solome and father Atunaisa, stand by a makeshift shrine outside Brimbank Shopping Centre
Mourners returned to the scene on Wednesday afternoon to pay tribute to Taufeulungaki
Solomone’s parents have called for calm and even said they forgive the young men who allegedly took his life.
‘We don’t want any justice,’ Solomone’s mum Salome Taufeulungaki said.
‘We want our son back home … we don’t need any justice’
The mother’s call came amid fears the stabbing death could trigger a gang war on the streets, with the victim’s friends vowing to retaliate.
‘No revenge,’ Mrs Taufeulungaki said. ‘We do (forgive them). It’s a blessing. Dying is a blessing for our family.’
Solomone’s father Atunaisa Taufeulungaki said perhaps his deceased father in heaven needed his son too.
‘Everyone dies. We all die in a different situation. But our father in heaven needs us to come back,’ he said.