Sunderland community left in shock as murder probe continues

Families and business owners have spoken of their shock and upset after a murder investigation was launched on their doorstep.

A police cordon in Sea Road, in Fulwell - stretching from Mere Knolls Road and Garcia Terrace to Marshall Terrace - remains in place this morning following the death of a 62-year-old woman last night.

Police and forensics officers in Sea Road, Sunderland.

Police and forensics officers in Sea Road, Sunderland.

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A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Forensics officers have been seen carrying out inquiries in the street as investigations continue.

Businesses have been told to expect the cordon - which has also closed off access to the back lane of the shut off section of the street, with vehicles allowed out by uniformed officers and carers let in to reach their calls - to be in place until lunchtime.

Forensics officers in Sea Road, Sunderland

Forensics officers in Sea Road, Sunderland

People say they saw police arrive in the road shortly before 11pm yesterday.

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Specialist search officers have been seen checking the drains in Sea Road and nearby area.

The team have also used a ladder to scale the front of buildings and have been seen checking the ledges on the front of shops and homes.

Police checking the top of shop fronts as part of the murder probe in Sea Road

Police checking the top of shop fronts as part of the murder probe in Sea Road

Fulwell Councillor Margaret Beck visited Sea Road to speak to residents and those working and running businesses which have been allowed to open.

She said: "I wanted to come down and see how everyone was.

"My thoughts are with the woman's family."

Local resident Derek Campbell, 55, said: "I have lived in the street for eight years. She's a nice lady, helpful, like all of them in that shop."

Officers have also been checking drains in the area as part of the investigation

Officers have also been checking drains in the area as part of the investigation

Mr Campbell said there have been problems with local drug addicts shoplifting food, sweets and alcohol.

He said: "They have been chased away and barred many times, but they take no notice."

Shakeel Rahman, 44, who works in a mobile phone shop nearby, said: "She was nice and polite.

"She only served me two days before. It is such a shame it happened to her."

Samantha Willis, 55, said: "I burst into tears when I heard. She was a lovely lady, very sweet, always on at night and she worked hard."

One 43-year-old woman, who runs a shop in Sea Road, said: "I heard about it at about 5am this morning, I just live down the street from where it happened.

Sea Road resident Derek Campbell

Sea Road resident Derek Campbell

"I saw a lot of police and I've seen about it on Facebook as well.

"It's just so sad.

"It's quite a shock, this is a quiet and nice area and you don't hear about things like this happening, but it has been going down for a while."

A 44-year-old woman, who lives in Sea Road, said: "I just heard the sirens and then saw three or four police cars come speeding down and then a rapid response vehicle and then two ambulances.

"It just makes you sick and scared, what's happened.

"I was only talking to that lady the other day.

"I feek sorry for her family.

"She was quite quiet, not that talkative, but she was always very nice and helpful and she had worked there for years."

A 63-year-old woman who runs a shop close to the One Stop store added: "She was a very popular person.

"I think it's awful, what's happened and she was lovely, just one of the community because everyone is so close around here.

"It's upsetting because it is such a nice area.

"I'm really sad for that lady and her family because she came to work and she's lost her life and that's terrible."

One resident, who looked on as police arrived in Sea Road, said: "I went to switch the television off and I looked out of the window and I could see a young lady police officer leaning on my wall and then another police officer turned up.

"I could tell they were watching a house and they were standing there for maybe 45 minutes.

"They just had eyes on it the whole time and were obviously waiting for something.

"Armed police turned up, the dog units were there and the BMW X5s and they were fully equipped.

"One of them got a pair of step ladders and scaled the wall to the house, but I couldn't see what was happening around the front, but I heard a commotion.

"After it was all over I went out and spoke to an officer and they said there was nothing to worry about."

A 56-year-old woman, from Atkinson Road, said: "My daughter phoned this morning at 7.30am and told me what had happened.

"It's so sad.

"I've lived around here all my life and it's just going downhill."

A 55-year-old man, who lives in Sea Road, said: "It was about 10.50pm, and I just heard sirens and saw all the blue lights.

"I thought something had happened at the pub or down the beach.

"Then I saw two ambulances turn up.

"I could see one paramedic, he was running in and out of the ambulance, and they left very quickly, so I knew it had to be something very serious, and then all the police were still about.

"I think I know the women it happened to and she's a lovely lovely woman.

"It's very sad what's happened."

A 42-year-old woman, whose parents live off Sea Road, arrived to walk her young child to school to find the cordon in place.

"I knew something had happened from the school and I just wanted to make sure I could get my little one there." she said.

We've still been able to use the cut to get there and the school said they knew people would be a bit late.

"I was just shocked to hear what had happened."

A Partners and Communities Together (Pact) meeting is due to be held today at 6pm at Fulwell Community Centre in Chapman Street, with antisocial behaviour, drug dealing and substance misuse, vehicle crime, burglary and vandalism listed as the issues due to be discussed.

This morning, parents and grandparents taking children to Fulwell Junior School were asked to take an alternative route as the main street was closed off to traffic and people on foot.

The school had sent out a text to families, telling them of the restricted access and that they understood this might cause delays in the arrival of children.