News State Victoria African-Australian teen found dead after brawl in Melbourne ‘party rental’ apartment
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African-Australian teen found dead after brawl in Melbourne ‘party rental’ apartment

A police officer directs passersby away from the high-rise tower where the woman died despite paramedics' bid to save her. Photo: AAP/Wayne Taylor
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A dozen partygoers have been questioned by police over the death of a 19-year-old woman who died after a fight erupted in a Melbourne CBD apartment rented for a party.

In the latest of a series of incidents that have made crime in Melbourne’s African-Australian community a political football, the victim, identified as Laa Chol, died amid an out-of-control party in the short-term rental unit on the 56th floor of the EQ Tower early on Saturday morning, police say.

Residents complain the Melbourne’s EQ Tower is plagued by one-night rentals and wild parties. Photo: Booking.com

It is unclear who attacked Ms Chol or what her injuries were, but Commander Tim Hansen said a fracas appeared to have begun after apparent gatecrashers arrived at the high-rise tower.

“There is CCTV available to us and we’re reviewing that currently,” Commander Tim Hansen said.

While it remains unclear if the second group had been invited to the apartment, Commander Tim Hansen said the incident did not appear to be a random attack.

“We’re trying to clarify what brought them there,” he said. “There was some connection between these groups.”

Emergency services were called to the EQ Tower in A’Beckett Street, in the northern part of the CBD, about 5.15am after reports of a woman suffering serious injuries.

Paramedics treated Ms Chol but she died at the scene.

Commander Hansen told reporters that a group of young people rented the short-stay apartment.

“During the course of the night a second group of young people have arrived,” Commander Hansen said.

“A dispute of some nature has occurred, resulting in the victim … being assaulted.”

While he declined to comment on reports the woman had been stabbed, he confirmed residents’ reports that a number of young people left the party immediately afterwards.

Asked whether the culprit or culprits were among the 12 people being interviewed, Commander Hansen said “I don’t think so”.

“[It was a] fairly chaotic scene, there was obviously a number of people out the front,” he told reporters.

“It would be fair to say they were upset, obviously, and quite emotive.

“However, the police members were never threatened or challenged and took control of the scene pretty quickly.”

Support was being offered to the African-Australian community, he added.

Police closed Melbourne’s A’Beckett Street while they investigated the death 55 floors above the street. Photo: AAP

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

One of its residents, who asked to be identified only as “Sean”, said wild parties have been a growing problem in the tower.

“This is a tragedy that sadly has been building and building over the last few months,” he said.

“What we’re seeing increasingly is these parties of youths getting out of control.

“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.”

Another man 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.

-with AAP and ABC