One man was killed and seven people injured in a series of “random” stabbings in Birmingham, in what West Midlands Police has declared as a major incident.
Police and paramedics were called to reports of a knife attack in the early hours of Sunday, with further stabbings being reported between 12.30am and 2.20am.
A man and a woman suffered serious injuries during the attacks, which police are treating as linked. Five people suffered non-life threatening injuries.
The age of the man killed has not been released.
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham said police are looking for one suspect, and that there was “absolutely no suggestion at all” that the attacks were released to terrorism.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Mr Graham added the stabbings appeared to be a random attack and there was no evidence the incident was motivated by hate towards any particular group nor gang-related.
“Clearly those of you who know Birmingham city centre know that Hurst Street is part of the gay community’s night-time economy but there’s absolutely no suggestion at this point that this was in any way, shape or form motivated by hate,” he said.
Asked whether the incident was gang related, he said: “At this stage we can’t find a particular motive but it does appear to be random in terms of the selection of the people who were attacked.”
Extra police, including armed officers, have been deployed to patrol the city centre.
Cara Curran, a club promoter working in the Arcadian Centre, had finished her shift at 12.30am and was drinking with colleagues when she heard a “loud bang and quite a lot of commotion”.
She told the BBC: “I found multiple people having fist fights… people from inside pubs and clubs came out and started to see what was going on.
“There were females, males, old people, young people, such a mix of people, it didn’t seem real at the time.
“Working on the club scene for over two years, I’ve always seen quite a lot of fights but it was nothing like tonight. The body language and demeanour was quite different.”
Ms Curran said the area had been busier during the evening than it had been at any time since the start of lockdown
“The amount of things that I’ve heard have happened tonight in the space of three hours, with the stabbings that have happened, the car crashes and multiple other things it’s such a huge shock to me.
“For me to be an eyewitness to something that has happened it’s been quite an emotional night to the point where I’m actually still a bit shell-shocked.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said those in the vicinity of the major incident in Birmingham should be “very vigilant”.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Mr Raab said: “My thoughts are with the victims and their families, there is obviously an ongoing police investigation.
“I can’t say too much more at this stage but people should be very vigilant if they are in that area.”
The majority of Birmingham’s Hurst Street has been taped off by police, in an area which had already been closed off to traffic to aid social distancing.
Several yellow police evidence markers could be seen on the ground, some near to broken glass.
Two forensic tents had also been sited in nearby Irving Street, close to the gates of a primary school.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said his thoughts are with those affected by the major incident in Birmingham but asked people not to speculate about it.
He tweeted: “I would ask everyone to not speculate about the incident in Birmingham. 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.”
A West Midlans Police statement read: “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.
“We’re urging anyone who witnessed anything or anyone who has any CCTV or mobile phone footage to get in contact as soon as possible, as the information you have may be crucial to our investigation.
Chief Superintendent 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.”
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.”