Eyewitnesses caught photos of the moment police took down the Norwegian-Somali terrorist to the ground. He is now in custody. One American woman was killed in the attack, two more women and three men were stabbed.
This is the moment a mentally ill Norwegian of Somali origin was pinned to the ground after he murdered an American woman and injured five pedestrians on a knife rampage in Russell Square last night.
His victim, a US citizen in her 60s, said ‘he’s still here’ as she used her final words to warn others their lives were also in danger, a witness told MailOnline today.
She died in a pool of blood as she was cradled by a family of Spanish tourists, as the 19-year-old silently stabbed pedestrians in the back, side and arms who were left ‘screaming and covered in blood’.
Police were called at 10.30pm last night and Chanel Britton, 19, of Barnsley, who was staying in one of Russell Square’s many hotels, captured the moment up to eight officers searched him after being Tasered to the ground.
The teenager, a Somali who came to Britain from Norway aged five, was arrested on suspicion of murder and he spent the night in hospital before being moved to a south London police station.
A witness, who used towels bought on an earlier shopping trip to stem the flow of blood, told MailOnline: ‘I was just trying to console her. The victim said something about: ‘He’s still here, he’s still here’ – after that she was not lucid. That’s when I saw someone. He was meandering about. He was very disturbed’.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene and two women and three men – who were British, American, Israeli and Australian – were taken to hospital. Three have since been discharged.
The footage of his arrest emerged as Britain’s top anti-terror officer Mark Rowley said they have now interviewed the suspect, spoken to his family, searched his London home and liaised with MI5 and MI6 and believe it was a ‘spontaneous’ and ‘random’ attack, not ‘motivated by terrorism’.
Defending his decision to suggest terrorism as a motive earlier today he said: ‘You would expect us in the current climate to consider all possibilities’.
As police investigate the murder, it emerged:
- A 19-year-old of Somali origin, who came to the UK from Norway in 2002, has been arrested on suspicion of murder after he stabbed six people in Russell Square at around 10.30pm last night.
- An American in her 60s was fatally injured. The others hurt were British, American, Israeli and Australian and all were treated in hospital. Three were discharged this morning. None are critically ill.
- Spanish family of four – believed to be on holiday in London – cradled the woman as she died on the pavement, and victim’s last words were to warn them: ‘He’s still here’ before she fell unconscious
- Witnesses say killer was slashing ‘anyone he could see’ with his knife before he was Tasered by police.
- Britain’s top anti-terror officer Mark Rowley said detectives had considered terrorist motive but now stabbings appear to be ‘triggered by mental health issues’. MI5 and MI6 have no record of killer being an extremist
- Scotland Yard has sent out armed units to patrol the streets as London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged the public to remain ‘calm and vigilant’.
Brazilian Fernando, 40, who was cycling through the square at the same time said the killer was slashing at people with his knife in complete silence.
The killer’s blade was abandoned on the pavement next to the body of the unnamed victim, which remained under a forensics tent overnight and was taken away by ambulance this morning.
The Met has sent scores of armed officers on to the streets of London – including members of its new elite counter-terror unit – to reassure the public and in case there is a new attack.
The attacker has struck at the heart of London’s tourist centre, packed with hotels. At 10.30pm, when he stabbed his victims, the area was full of people who had enjoyed a night in the West End.
The Israeli victim was a teenage girl who was in London on holiday with a family member. She suffered minor injuries and has now been discharged from hospital.
One witness claimed he may have jumped off a moped before slashing at his victims.
A source said the suspect was seen to go ‘on the rampage’ with the weapon. Another witness said he heard one of the victim’s scream before running over to help them.
Fernando, 40, from Brazil told MailOnline how he cycled into the horrific scene his way home last night and saw the murder victim slumped against the fence of Russell Square’s famous gardens and called the emergency services.
He said: ‘I was cycling home from work and some people stopped me in the street asking for help to call an ambulance. I saw an old lady lying against the wall – she had collapsed. I had to call 999, but it took a bit of time because I didn’t know the postcode, then two or three minutes later a car full of police turned up. That was the moment I realised she had not just collapsed but had been stabbed.’
According to Fernando, a Spanish family of four – a mother, father and their two daughters thought to be in their 20s – were looking after the woman who is believed to have died at the scene.
‘She was being cradled in the lap of a Spanish tourist who was trying to keep her alive. I didn’t hear the old woman speak – she had been stabbed in the back,’ he said.
According to witnesses, the scale of the attack was initially unclear as Fernando said at first he had no idea that other people had been injured.
‘I don’t know if she was alive when I left – I think she had already died – she wasn’t talking. The Spanish girl tried to talk to her and keep her alive. She said to me before I left that she was still breathing.
‘I realised it was a stabbing when they started giving her first aid. Then I realised more people had been stabbed.’
Witnesses said the attacker was chubby, had been wearing black shorts and a white t-shirt and that he left with the knife, which he carried in his right hand.
Fernando was told that the attacker had been hiding his face with his forearm as he ran along stabbing people in the back.
‘He did not shout anything,’ he said, adding that people didn’t shout either – terrified that the attack was not over.
Jodie Parry, said the attacker ignored police as they screamed at him to stop running.
She said: ‘I could hear the policeman screaming ‘stop, don’t move, don’t go any further, just stay where you are’ and he turned around and continued running. He just wasn’t prepared to stop.’
She added: ‘He was actually carrying a knife in his hand and he had blood on his hands.’
Oscar Kaysan described how the knife man was tackled to the ground by eight police officers.
Mr Kaysan, who lives nearby, said: ‘First he was standing then they shout him. He was really shouting.
‘He was heavy built – two police officers could not contain him. There was six to eight police officers who held him down. He was big.
Mr Kaysan said he believes he was speaking English, but added: ‘What he was saying does not make sense. It was just screaming. It was so loud, he was making so much noise.’
A guest at the nearby Penn Club hotel said the man was making a ‘continuous scream’.
Hotel staff on Russell Square, an area always packed with tourists, said the attacker was completely silent and was ‘just going for anyone he could see’ before he was shot with a Taser and pinned face-down by police.
One worker told the Standard: ‘The police came to the hotel and a guest was telling them what he saw. He said there was a madman running around with a knife just lunging at people randomly and stabbing them’.
A night receptionist at the Repton Hotel, overlooking the scene, said: ‘I saw a woman lying on the floor with police standing over her, checking to see if she was alive.
‘She looked unconscious, they were shaking her but she was lying still. Then the ambulance arrived. A guest came in shortly afterwards saying she saw police chasing a man down the street.’
Police cordoned off the area and additional police patrols are in place in London, and police helicopters hovered over the city well into the early hours.
The incident occurred in the same area as where one of the 7/7 bombs detonated in 2005. A total of 26 people were killed when Germaine Lindsay, 19, detonated a suicide bomb on a Piccadilly line Tube as it moved between King’s Cross station and Russell Square.
On the same day a bus was destroyed on Tavistock Square, which is just up the street.
Last night’s incident came hours after the Met unveiled its brand new elite anti-terror unit.
Scotland Yard confirmed that ‘terrorism is one possibility being explored at this stage’ and also said that early indications suggest that ‘mental health is a significant factor in this case’.
The Met’s Assistant Commissioner for special operations, Mark Rowley, said it had been a ‘tragic incident’.
He said: ‘Early indications suggest that mental health is a significant factor in this case and that is one major line of inquiry.
‘But of course at this stage we should keep an open mind regarding motive and, consequently, terrorism as a motivation remains but one line of inquiry for us to explore,’ he said.
‘Armed officers arrived at the scene within five minutes, they discharged the Taser whilst confronting and arresting the suspect.
‘Six people have been injured, including the one woman who sadly died at the scene, and the others have received various injuries.’
He confirmed murder detectives and the counter-terrorism unit had been brought in to investigate the killing.
Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe vowed to protect the capital, adding: ‘A normal night out in our busy capital has ended in horrific circumstances.’
He said: ‘My thoughts are with the family of the woman who was murdered and those who were injured.’
The investigation is ‘moving very quickly’, Sir Bernard said.
He went on: ‘As we have already made clear, mental health remains a substantial focus for our investigation’
‘I am proud that last night our specialist firearms officers were on the scene in six minutes and, using only a Taser, detained the subject. That demonstrates our commitment to use force in a professional and proportionate way.
‘Their swift response undoubtedly helped to prevent more people from getting injured.’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for the public to remain ‘calm and vigilant’ as police investigate whether a knife attack that left one woman dead and five people injured was terror-related.
Mr Khan said his ‘heart goes out to the victims of the incident in Russell Square and their loved ones’ after the death of the woman.
Matthew Barzun, US ambassador to the UK, tweeted his condolences following the attack.
‘Heartbreaking news that a U.S. citizen was killed in £RussellSquare attack. My prayers are with all the victims and their loved ones,’ he wrote.
The Russell Square knife murder suspect emigrated to Britain from Norway in 2002 when he was around five-years-old.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has appointed a liaison officer to assist in the case, confirmed the 19-year-old emigrated 14 years ago.
A spokesman said: ‘We will assist the British police in the normal manner, with information and any requests they might have in their investigation.’
Eyewitness Zuhair Awartani told the BBC he saw the attacker being arrested.
He said: ‘I arrived here at my hotel and I saw the guy getting arrested just on the block. There were two police cars and he was like African – a dark-skinned man’.
Helen Edwards passed by as police arrested the man and said she believed that someone else may also have been attacked in a side road.
There are fears that the knifeman operated with an accomplice as the Met refused to rule out arresting more suspects. One witness said he saw ‘a man flee on a motorbike’. Others suggested a gang may have been involved.
Philippa Baglee, who was in London to celebrate her 60th birthday, was walking past Russell Square when she saw a group of people looking down at the ground.
She said: ‘There was someone lying on the ground and lots of people around and a guy with a black motorcycle helmet balanced on top of his head walking around.
‘He was on the outside of everyone looking on the ground.
‘The moment I saw an ambulance and police car arrive, I thought someone had just been knocked off their bike.’
Asked to describe the man, she said he was short and dressed in what she thought was all black leathers.
She continued: ‘It was all very calm. No-one was panicking. I just went back in.’
Ms Baglee added that she did not find out what had happened until Thursday morning.
‘It’s a bit scary, I have just come for a couple of nights for my 60th.’
An eyewitness, who called himself Michael, told MailOnline that he saw a woman – aged around 25 – with blood pouring from her back. He said another woman of the same age was suffering a wounded arm.
He said: ‘I heard a scream, and then we went to the park and I saw a girl lying on the floor with blood coming from her back. Another girl had blood on her arm.’
Paul Hutchinson, a taxi driver, said he passed the incident shortly after it occurred.
He said: ‘I drove past Russell Square and the road wasn’t shut but the pavement was all taped off by police, lots of armed police, lots of cars and the body was just lying on the floor. You could see the boots sticking out from under the cloth.
‘Loads of armed police, cars with lights on and the body on the floor.’