West Midlands Police have released the first images in the hunt for a man they wish to speak to in connection to a bloody rampage on the streets of Birmingham last night.
The horrific attacks, which took place in four parts of the city over a two-hour period, left one man dead and seven other people injured.
The force, who declared a major incident as the attack unfolded, says extra officers have flooded the city centre as the hunt for the knifeman continues.
Shocked witnesses described a man stabbing a woman in the neck before walking off seemingly unconcerned as police warn anyone who sees the suspect pictured to not approach but to call 999 immediately.
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham said: ‘We do not underestimate the impact that these incidents have had on the city of Birmingham today.
‘We declared this a major incident at the earliest opportunity and we have drafted in scores of officers to help with the investigation and patrol the city to reassure residents and visitors that we are doing all we can to apprehend the person responsible.
‘We have worked throughout the day to trawl CCTV footage and speak to witnesses to ensure we release the best possible video and image of the man we want to speak to.
‘At this stage we believe that the attacks were random and we have no indication of a motive. I would urge people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to us.
‘We are appealing for anyone who recognises the man in the footage to contact us urgently. We have a hotline number and a dedicated web page where you can submit information, photos and videos. If you see him, please do not approach him, but dial 999 immediately.’
Police hunting Birmingham knifeman issue CCTV of suspect after late-night rampage left one dead and seven hurt – with witnesses describing their horror at the bloodbath
A witness to the Birmingham stabbings described the moment he saw a woman ‘stabbed in the neck’ during the horror attack.
Bar owner Savvas Sfrantziz says he saw the man, who he describes as ‘black, in his 20s and wearing a hoodie’, stab the woman ‘several times’ in the neck before ‘walking away’.
One man died in the stabbings, while seven were injured, including two people, a man and a woman, who are said to be in a critical condition in hospital with serious injuries.
Speaking about the attack, Mr Sfrantziz, who owns Mykonos bar on Hurst Street, where one of the attacks took place, told Sky News: ‘I saw him stabbing the girl several times in the neck. I was only about 20 yards away
‘She started screaming: ‘He’s stabbing me.’ But everybody thought he was robbing her because she had a necklace.
‘He wasn’t concerned, he wasn’t worried, after he stabbed the girl he started walking away.’
Today, police chiefs revealed how they believed the victims were targeted ‘at random’ and that there is ‘no suggestion’ at this time that the stabbings were related to terrorism, gangs or hate crime.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: ‘We can now confirm that we’ve launched a murder investigation following the events in Birmingham city centre overnight.
‘A man has tragically died. Another man and a woman have suffered serious injuries and five others have also been injured, although their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
‘We believe the incidents, which took place between 12.30am and 2.20am, are linked and we’re doing all we can to find whoever was responsible.
‘Detectives are following a number of lines of enquiry and we’ve increased our uniformed and armed response in the city.
‘We continue to hold a number of scenes across the city, including Livery Street, Irving Street and Hurst Street.’
Multiple people have been stabbed in Birmingham city centre, with police declaring a major incident. Pictured: Police have today cordoned off part of Irving Street in Birmingham
A large police presence has been seen in Irving Street today. The road is a short walk from the Arcadian Centre, near to where another stabbing took place
Officers have also cordoned off an area in the city’s LGBT area, known as ‘Gay Village’, following the stabbings in Birmingham today
Forensic officers cross a cordon on Hurst Walk, off Hurst Street, and near to the Arcadia Centre, where part of the attack took place
Bar owner Savvas Sfrantziz (pictured) says he saw the man, who he describes as ‘black, in his 20s and wearing a hoodie’, stab a woman ‘several times’ in the neck before ‘walking away’
Pictures from today show a knife which has been dug out from a drain in Edmund Street by police who are investigating the stabbings in Birmingham
Forensic officers were seen removing the knife from the area today in a sealed container. Police say it is not clear if this was a knife used in the stabbings
The corner of Hurst Street and Bromsgrove Street, which is part of the city’s LGBT district, has been cordoned off throughout today
A large group of police cars and vans were seen at the scene following an incident in Birmingham city centre this morning
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has said the incidents ‘look to be related’, but the motivation for them ‘is not yet understood’. Pictured: Police in Irving Street this morning
West Midlands police commissioner says rise in violence ‘almost inevitable’ due to Covid
The West Midlands police and crime commissioner has said a rise in violence was ‘almost inevitable’ due to the pandemic in the wake of a spate of stabbings in Birmingham.
David Jamieson spoke at a press conference following the stabbings in Birmingham, telling reporters the city was ‘well used to activity’.
He said: ‘I think what is different is the randomness of this particular event but also the number of other events that were happening as well.
‘The amount of violence that was happening is actually very, very disturbing.’
Mr Jamieson said a rise in violence should be expected due to the lockdown and pandemic, though he added that Sunday’s incident may not be connected.
He continued: ‘I have been saying for some time, in the context of Covid-19, that a lot of the pent-up feelings that people have, and not being able to get out, and combine that with people who are now unsure about their future and about their jobs, it was almost inevitable that we would see a growth in violence.
‘I’m not saying that this is directly related to that, but nevertheless we are seeing now a growth of violence among younger people, particularly younger males, we’re seeing that growing across the region.
‘My fear is that if we don’t address that and some of the underlying problems with some urgency then we could see that grow.
‘But, notwithstanding that, Birmingham is a good place, it’s a good place to be, it’s a safe city and it is regrettable that this awful incident happened last night.’
Officers were first called to reports of a stabbing in the city centre at around 12.30am on Sunday.
Police say the incident began in Constitution Hill in the north of the city centre, moving towards the junction of Livery Street and Barwick Street in the Snow Hill area.
The attacker then moved south through the city centre before there were further attacks on Irving Street and Hurst Street, police believe.
Officers say there were multiple stabbings at each of the locations. Cordons are currently in place in each of the areas, including a forensic tent in Irving Street and Livery Street.
West Midlands Police did not reveal at which of the locations the murder took place. They say that no arrests have yet been made.
Speaking earlier today, Chief Superintendent Steve Graham, said: ‘The events during the early hours of this morning are tragic, shocking and understandably frightening.
‘Please be assured that we are doing absolutely everything we can to find whoever was responsible and try to understand what exactly happened.
‘We have well-rehearsed plans for dealing with major incidents. Your safety is always our priority and that’s why you’ll see an increase in officers on the streets.
‘In the meantime, we’d ask anyone who’s in the city to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to us.’
Meanwhile, West Midlands Police said there was ‘no suggestion’ gunshots had been fired, following comments on social media.
The force added that its response to the incident will continue ‘for some time’.
One of the areas to be cordoned off is the junction of Hurst Street and Bromsgrove Street.
The area is part of Birmingham’s Gay Village – an LGBT neighbourhood with a thriving night life featuring clubs, bars and live entertainment.
The area is also where Birmingham’s Gay Pride event takes place each year. Police say they do not believe the stabbings were motivated by hate and that the victims were not known to each other.
According to staff at LGBT bar Eden, customers were locked inside the venue as police swarmed the streets.
Owner Cal Eden told The Sun Online: ‘It was really, really frightening. I’ve never seen so many police. It was just an indiscriminate attack by the sounds of it.
‘It was really scary. We closed the doors because we didn’t want to scare our customers.’
A forensic officer takes pictures and lays out investigation markers on the street following the stabbings in Birmingham today
A discarded blanket at the scene in Hurst Street, Birmingham, after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre
Two forensic officers behind a cordon near to Mexican chain restaurant Las Iguanas in Hurst Street, Birmingham, earlier today
A heavy police presence has been seen across Birmingham city centre following the stabbings, which have been declared a major incident
Officers have sealed off the junction between Hurst Street and Bromsgrove Street this morning. The area is near to where one of the incidents took place
The area is part of Birmingham’s Gay Village – an LGBT neighbourhood with a thriving night life featuring clubs, bars and live entertainment
Police speak to a passer-by from behind a cordon at Barwick Street in Birmingham today as forensic officers are seen in the background
One woman, who works in the area, told BBC Radio Five Live this morning that she heard two ‘bangs’ before seeing a young male lying on the floor.
The club promoter told the station she had heard racial slurs during the incident near the Arcadian complex – an indoor entertainment and party venue with bars, restaurants and a comedy club.
She said: ‘I heard a bang. I thought it was my boyfriend shutting the car door but I later found out it was one of many gunshots fired last night.
‘After leaving the car park, I heard another bang. I got out of the car and saw a young male lying on the floor.
‘I spoke to another man who had seen what happened and he told me it was a gunshot.’
Police today said in a tweet: ‘We’re aware of some comments that gunshots were fired, this has not been reported to us at this stage.’
Meanwhile, bar manager David Nash has told how he saw a hooded suspect run from the scene of the stabbings.
He said he later saw a casualty being treated for what appeared to be a neck wound as the suspected attacker fled after members of the public shouted ‘stop him, he’s stabbed somebody’.
Mr Nash was working at The Village Inn in Hurst Street, in the heart of Birmingham’s Gay Village area, when the man walked past the pub at about 2.20am.
According staff at LGBT bar Eden, customers were locked inside the venue as police swarmed the streets. Pictured: Forensics at the scene at Hurst Street in Birmingham
One woman, who works in the area, told BBC Radio Five Live this morning that she heard two ‘bangs’ before seeing a young male lying on the floor
However, police say they have received no reports of gunshots and that none of the victims suffered from gun shot wounds. Pictured: Police close off Hurst Street following the stabbings
A police officer stands guard near to the Arcadian complex – an indoor entertainment and party venue with bars, restaurants and a comedy club.
‘I was on the street around 2.20am and we heard somebody shout down the street ‘stop him, he’s just stabbed somebody’ and initially it was a guy with a black hoodie on with the hood pulled up over his head, who was walking relatively casually.
‘As soon as somebody shouted ‘stop him’ that’s when he ran off into the area of Sherlock Street.’
The man was walking in the middle of the road opposite the bar, Mr Nash said, adding: ‘He just looked like an ordinary member of the public in the first instance.
‘He was calm, I wouldn’t say he was hurried. He wasn’t looking back. He just walked straight past.
‘I couldn’t see any weapon at all. Obviously it was dark, he was in dark clothing from what we could see.
Today Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street, asked people ‘not to speculate’ about the incident.
The Conservative mayor added: ‘West Midlands Police are set to hold a press conference this morning.
‘My thoughts are with those affected, and my thanks to the emergency services working to deal with this incident.
‘The city remains open for business as usual this morning, but clearly people are asked to avoid the immediate area surrounding Hurst Street while police carry out their investigation. ‘
Meanwhile, Former Scotland Yard Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry Campbell criticised police for delaying the release of information.
He said in a tweet: ‘The Birmingham multiple stabbing has been running for almost 10 hours now without an informed update. With the absence of some updates people will speculate.’
His comments come as police were seen setting up a small forensic tent in Barwick Street, in Birmingham’s Snow Hill area. A heavy police presence has also been spotted in the area today.
Armed police were also spotted in Colmore Row, near to Barwick Street, this morning, where one man was reportedly arrested at gunpoint at about 8am. Police say the arrest was not related to the stabbings.
Meanwhile, police say the area is ‘safe’ to visit and there will be an increased presence of both armed and patrol officers in the area today.
Two police forensics officers enter the cordoned area in Livery Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre
A police officer stands near to a small forensics tent as he mans a cordon at the junction of Church Street and Barwick Street
A broken glass is seen near an evidence marker after reported stabbings in Birmingham this morning. Police are currently investigating
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said: ‘Last night’s events are truly terrible and have shocked the people of Birmingham, the West Midlands and the country.
‘My first thoughts are with the victims and their families at this time.
‘I have every faith in West Midlands Police who are working extremely quickly on this investigation.
‘My thanks also go to the ambulance and hospital staff who are working around the clock to help those who have been injured.’
Foreign minister Dominic Raab, told Sky News today: ‘I can’t say too much more at this stage, as there is an ongoing police operation.
‘But people should be vigilant if they are in that area.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on Twitter: ‘All my thoughts are with those affected by the terrible incident in Birmingham last night. My thanks to the emergency services who are working hard at the scene.
‘Anyone with information should contact @WMPolice.’
Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: ‘As we wait for news on the major incident in Birmingham overnight, all our thoughts are with the victims and anyone else affected. Thank you to our emergency services.’
Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birminham City Council, added: ‘We are extremely concerned about last night’s major incident in the city centre and of course our thoughts first and foremost are with anyone affected.
‘I’ve spoken to David Jamieson and assured him that we will be working with the police to establish what happened.
‘There is no room in Birmingham for this level of violence, and we ask that everyone co-operate with the police and follow their guidance.’
People are being advised to avoid the area today, as police continue their investigations. Here a passer-by speaks to a masked officer in Livery Street
Two police forensics officers at the cordoned area in Barwick Street in Birmingham today, as police investigate the major incident
Police have also cordoned off Irving Street today. The street is a short walk from the Arcadian Centre and around half a mile from the Snow Hill area
The incident comes after seven people were stabbed in London in a night of violence across the city on Friday.
A teenage boy was knifed on a train platform before another male was found with stab wounds at a neighbouring underground station after they had an ‘altercation’.
The teenager was stabbed at West Ham Station at 6.50pm while the other victim was found at Abbey Road DLR Station after getting a train shortly afterwards.
Both were taken to hospital where they remain after being treated by paramedics.
Later, five men were stabbed on the Broadway in Bexleyheath at around 9.33pm.
One of the victims has potentially life-threatening injuries. Five men have been arrested on suspicion of causing GBH.