A woman was killed and five people were injured in a knife attack at Russell Square in London, Metropolitan Police say.
A suspect was taken into custody at the scene. Police said in a press release that they were called at 10:33 p.m. local time Wednesday for reports of a “man seen in possession of a knife injuring people at Russell Square,” a popular park in the central part of the city.
Police say it is a possible terror attack.
This story is still breaking and we will update this post as more information is made available. Here’s what we know so far:
1. Police Found 6 Injured Victims at the Scene & a Woman Was Pronounced Dead Shortly After Their Arrival
Police said they responded to the park just after 10:30 p.m. and found six people with injuries. A woman in her 60s was pronounced dead a short time later.
Two other women and three men were injured.
“We await an update on the condition of the other persons injured and details of any other injuries,” police said.
It is not known if the victims knew the attacker or if they were chosen at random.
2. The Suspect Was Hit With a Taser & Taken Into Custody by Police
According to police, the suspect, a 19-year-old man, was arrested at 10:39 p.m., just minutes after the attack was reported.
He was hit with a Taser by one of the arresting officers, police said.
The suspect is in police custody at a hospital, Scotland Yard officials said at a press conference.
The attacker’s name and other details about him were not released.
3. ‘Terrorism Is One Possibility Being Explored at This Stage,’ Police Say
Police said in a press release that “terrorism is one possibility being explored at this stage.”
No other details about the attacker’s possible motive have been released.
Police said at a press conference that “mental health” is also a big part of the investigation.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan issued a statement Thursday morning calling for calm and vigilance while the full facts are determined:
The safety of all Londoners is my number one priority and my heart goes out to the victims of the incident in Russell Square and their loved ones.
I have spoken with the Commissioner, and the Assistant Commissioner, who have assured me that our police officers are working extremely hard to investigate exactly what has happened and to keep the rest of us safe. A man was arrested at the scene. Police have spoken to him and are seeking to establish the full facts including motives for this attack.
I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant. Please report anything suspicious to the police. We all have a vital role to play as eyes and ears for our police and security services and in helping to ensure London is protected.
Our police officers are doing an incredibly difficult job on our behalf and they have my full support.
Metropolitan Police said anyone with information should contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously at 0800 555 111. Investigators from the Met Police have not released any other details.
4. Police Have Been Dispatched to the Area for ‘Reassurance’
A heavy police presence could be seen in the area of Russell Square park after the attack.
“Additional police units have been deployed to the area to provide reassurance,” police said.
Wednesday night’s stabbings came just hours after the Metropolitan Police announced the number of armed officers on patrol would be increased in a counterterrorism effort following attacks around Europe.
“Hercules is part of the Met’s commitment to delivering extra armed officers to protect London against the threat of terrorism,” police said in a press release. “The Mayor has welcomed the Commissioner’s increase of 600 additional firearms officers to protect London against any attack. The first are now fully trained and operationally ready.”
Police said the public would see armed officers on foot and in vehicles.
Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe issued a statement about the armed officers:
Anyone who’s been following events in Europe over the past few weeks will understand why we want to show our determination to protect the public. We are deadly serious about the protection that we are offering the people of London and we will never be complacent.
That’s why I’m increasing the visibility and the number of armed officers on London’s streets, and demonstrating some of the range of tactics we already have to protect the public from all manner of threats.
I want the public to know that we have substantial resources and a range of tactics that we can call on to protect them.
The reality of having to deal with armed and deadly attackers is that you need firearms officers who will use force to stop those attackers in their aim. Our firearms officers are the ones who will run towards the danger. They are our heroes.
Despite the fact they are carrying guns they are still police officers and I want the public to approach and talk to them, they are out on our streets to reassure and help the public.
Equally important in how we protect our capital is the relationship that our mainly unarmed officers have built with communities over many years. Our communities are a vital source of information and if you have fears or concerns then we want to know.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement prior to the attacks:
The safety and security of all Londoners is my first priority, and our police and security services are working incredibly hard every day on our behalf.
“The threat level here in London has not changed, but it does remain at severe and especially in light of recent deadly attacks in Europe it is important we are prepared should the unthinkable happen.
We will see more armed officers on our streets, but there is no reason to be alarmed. All of our police officers are playing their part and working closely with all of our communities to prevent the possibility of an attack.
That is why we are returning to real neighbourhood policing with a second dedicated PC in every London ward by the end of next year, to be the eyes and ears of our security services and build trust in our communities.
Our armed response teams do a very difficult job. They put their own lives at risk every day and are at the front line of protection for Londoners across our city.
Met police said the increase in the number of armed officers was not “based on any specific intelligence,” but is a “long term response to best use the increasing number of armed officers the Met has to make London as hostile an environment as possible for any would-be attacker.”
Police said the locations, tactics and number of officers will continually change for effectiveness and to avoid predictability.
5. Russell Square Was the Site of One of 2005 London Bombings
Russell Square was the site of one of the July 7, 2005, London bombings.
Four Islamic attackers detonated suicide bombs in central London, including one on a train traveling from King’s Cross St. Pancras to Russell Square.
The coordinated suicide bombings killed 52 people and wounded hundreds more.