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Labour MP Jo Cox has died following shooting in Birstall

Alleged gunman Tommy Mair, reportedly shouted 'Britain First' after the attack on Ms Cox

Published 16/06/2016

Police at the scene in Birstall, West Yorkshire, after Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and injured in an attack near Leeds. PRESS ASSOCIATION Nigel Roddis/PA Wire
Police at the scene in Birstall, West Yorkshire, after Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and injured in an attack near Leeds. PRESS ASSOCIATION Nigel Roddis/PA Wire
Police crime scene tape surrounds a shoe and handbag lying on the ground outside the library in Birstall where Labour MP Jo Cox was shot on June 16, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFFOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
A handbag and shoes lie on the ground as police cordon off an area after Jo Cox, 41, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed by an attacker at her constituency on June 16, 2016 in Birstall, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A handbag and shoes lie on the ground as police cordon off an area after Jo Cox, 41, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A handbag and shoes lie on the ground as police cordon off an area after Jo Cox, 41, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
BIRSTALL, ENGLAND - JUNE 16: Police arrive at the scene after Jo Cox, 41, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police crime scene tape surrounds a shoe and handbag lying on the ground outside the library in Birstall where Labour MP Jo Cox was shot on June 16, 2016. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFFOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
Police at the scene in Birstall, West Yorkshire, after Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was shot, an eyewitness said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Nigel Roddis/PA Wire
Police at the scene in Birstall, West Yorkshire, after Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was shot, an eyewitness said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Nigel Roddis/PA Wire
Police at the scene in Birstall, West Yorkshire, after Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was shot, an eyewitness said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Nigel Roddis/PA Wire
Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, who has been shot in Birstall near Leeds, an eyewitness said.
Handout photo taken with permission from the twitter feed of @ScotsFootyCards of police close to the scene in Birstall, Yorkshire, after Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was shot, an eyewitness said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday June 16, 2016. See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: @ScotsFootyCards/PA Wire
Handout photo taken with permission from the twitter feed of @ScotsFootyCards of police close to the scene in Birstall, Yorkshire, after Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was shot, an eyewitness said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday June 16, 2016. See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: @ScotsFootyCards/PA Wire
Labour MP Jo Cox, who has been shot in Birstall near Leeds, an eyewitness said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday June 16, 2016. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Labour MP Jo Cox has died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery.

The mother of two was attacked by a man reportedly shouting "Britain first" at lunchtime in Birstall, West Yorkshire.

Temporary chief constable for West Yorkshire Dee Collins told a news conference: "I am now very sad to have to report that she has died as a result of her injuries."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the country would be "in shock at the horrific murder" of the MP, who was a "much loved colleague".

The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner".

Ms Collins expressed her deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ms Cox, who had two children aged three and five.

She said: "Jo was attacked by a man who inflicted serious and sadly, ultimately fatal injuries. Subsequently there was a further attack on a 77-year-old man nearby who has sustained injuries that are non-life threatening."

She added: "This is a very significant investigation with a large number of witnesses being spoken to at this time.

"It's a large and significant crime scene and a large police presence with a full investigation is under way to establish the motive for this attack."

Ms Collins continued: "Shortly afterwards a man was arrested nearby by local uniformed police officers. Weapons, including a firearm, have also been recovered.

"At 1.48pm Jo Cox was pronounced deceased by a doctor who was working with a paramedic crew that were attending to her serious injuries.

"This is a very significant investigation with large numbers of witnesses that have been spoken to by police at this time. There is a large and significant crime scene and there is a large police presence in the area.

"A full investigation is under way to establish the motive for this attack."

The murder shocked Westminster and led to the suspension of campaigning in the EU referendum.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The death of Jo Cox is a tragedy. She was a committed and caring MP. My thoughts are with her husband Brendan and her two young children."

Home Secretary Theresa May said it was a "dreadful event" adding that Westminster had lost one of its "brightest and most popular" MPs.

Eyewitness Clarke Rothwell, who runs a cafe near the murder scene, described the attack, telling the Press Association: "He was shouting 'put Britain first'. He shouted it about two or three times. He said it before he shot her and after he shot her."

He said the gunman fired three shots, the final one at her head.

Britain First is the name of a far-Right group which said it was "not involved and would never encourage behaviour of this sort".

Another witness, Hichem Ben Abdallah said the alleged attacker was "kicking her as she was lying on the floor".

He said that after a bystander intervened, the man produced a gun, stepped back and shot Ms Cox.

The 56-year-old, who was in the cafe next door to the library, told the Press Association: "There was a guy who was being very brave and another guy with a white baseball cap who he was trying to control and the man in the baseball cap suddenly pulled a gun from his bag.

Flowers left at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as
Flowers left at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
A man lays some flowers at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
A man writes a message at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
People hold an impromptu vigil at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Flowers left at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
People hold an impromptu vigil at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
A man writes a message at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson (rear) arrive to leave tributes at Parliament Square, opposite the Palace of Westminster in central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Flowers left at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) and deputy leader Tom Watson (centre left) arrive to leave tributes at Parliament Square, opposite the Palace of Westminster in central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson (rear) arrive to leave tributes at Parliament Square, opposite the Palace of Westminster in central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) speaks to the media during an impromptu vigil at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) speaks to the media during an impromptu vigil at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
People hug each other during an impromptu vigil at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (centre) stands during an impromptu vigil at Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster, central London, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2016. The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair, 52, who neighbours in Birstall have described as "a loner". See PA story POLICE MP. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

"He was fighting with her and wrestling with her and then the gun went off twice."

He added: "I came and saw her bleeding on the floor."

Mr Abdallah said the weapon looked handmade and that the man who had been wrestling with the assailant continued to do so even after he saw the gun.

He said: "The man stepped back with the gun and fired it and then he fired a second shot. As he was firing he was looking down at the ground.

"He was kicking her and he was pulling her by her hair."

Mair's house was sealed off by police who were guarding the property as forensic officers worked in the garden.

Neighbours said he had lived there for more than 30 years - on his own for the last two decades since the deaths of his mother and grandmother.

They did not think he had a job or drove a car and described how he would do gardening chores for local people.

One neighbour, David Pickles, said: "He's lived there longer than me and I've lived here since 1975.

"I still can't believe it. He's the last guy I would have thought of.

"He's just quiet. He kept himself to himself.

"He lived by himself. He's been on his own for about 20 years.

"I've never seen a lot of people visiting or anything like that, but he likes gardening.

"He did a lot of people's gardens round here. But he did it quietly."

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "We've known him quite a lot of years.

"I've known him since I was young. He lived with his grandmother in that house, she died a few years ago.

"He was a bit of a loner. It's a bit of a shock - he did everyone's gardens.

"I can't say a wrong word about him, he was so quiet.

"It's come as a shock to everybody."

Leah Ainley, who lives in Risedale Avenue where Mair was arrested, said armed police surrounded him and pinned him to the ground.

"I just saw them take him down and catch him," she added.

"The police were armed. There were more than 10 of them at the end.

"I just looked out the window and saw them. The man was white and bald. He banged his head on the floor.

"He just lay on the floor while they were holding him down.

"He had a bag with him but that's all I saw, I didn't see if he was armed."

Ms Cox was elected to the seat of Batley and Spen at the last general election in 2015.

She was a Remain supporter in the referendum and both official campaigns have suspended their operations as a mark of respect following the attack on her.

She has two children with husband Brendan who shortly after the attack Tweeted a picture of her next to the River Thames, where they lived in a houseboat.

She graduated from Cambridge University in 1995 and worked as an adviser for former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown's wife, Sarah, and Baroness Kinnock.

Ms Cox was a vocal advocate for the victims of the Syrian civil war and abstained in last autumn's contentious vote on allowing British military action in Syria.

Mr Cox, a former advisor to ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, spent Wednesday campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU.

He posted photographs of himself and the couple's two young children travelling along the Thames in a dinghy during a counter-protest against a pro-Brexit flotilla of vessels.


 

The attack took place near the town's library where the Batley and Spen MP held advice surgeries.

Eyewitness Hithem Ben Abdallah, 56, was in the cafe next door to the library shortly after 1pm when he heard screaming and went outside.

He said: "There was a guy who was being very brave and another guy with a white baseball cap who he was trying to control and the man in the baseball cap suddenly pulled a gun from his bag."

After a brief scuffle, he said the man stepped back and the MP became involved.

He added: "He was fighting with her and wrestling with her and then the gun went off twice and then she fell between two cars and I came and saw her bleeding on the floor."

The whole incident lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, Mr Abdallah said and another bystander told him she had also been stabbed.

He added: "He was kicking her and he was pulling her by her hair. A very courageous man from the dry cleaners tried to restrain him and he couldn't stop him because all of a sudden he pulled a gun.

"She was a standing still target for him when he shot her."

After around 15 minutes, the shop owner said emergency services arrived and tended to her with a drip.

Another eyewitness, Clarke Rothwell who runs a nearby cafe, told the BBC he believed the MP had been shot and stabbed multiple times.

He said: "Three times she was shot, the initial time which then she dropped to the floor and two more times. The third time he got close proximity he shot her round the head area."

He added: "In the meantime he was stabbing her as well, he was stabbing her with his knife."

Mr Rothwell said there was blood everywhere at the scene.

Asked if he thought Ms Cox had intervened in a dispute he said he understood the altercation was "always between the guy carrying the gun and the lady that got shot".

The Priestley Residential Care Home next door to the library on Market Street is thought to be in lock-down.

The firm's head office said all the residents are safe and accounted for following the shooting.

Ms Cox was elected to the seat of Batley and Spen at the last general election in 2015.

Arrest

Tommy Mair's house was sealed off by police who were guarding the property as forensic officers worked in the garden.

Neighbours said he had lived there for more than 30 years - on his own for the last two decades since the deaths of his mother and grandmother.

They did not think he had a job or drove a car and described how he would do gardening chores for local people.

One neighbour, David Pickles, said: "He's lived there longer than me and I've lived here since 1975.

"I still can't believe it. He's the last guy I would have thought of.

"He's just quiet. He kept himself to himself.

"He lived by himself. He's been on his own for about 20 years.

"I've never seen a lot of people visiting or anything like that, but he likes gardening.

"He did a lot of people's gardens round here. But he did it quietly."

Mr Pickles said he did not know of any connection between his neighbour and Ms Cox.

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "We've known him quite a lot of years.

"I've known him since I was young. He lived with his grandmother in that house, she died a few years ago.

"He was a bit of a loner. It's a bit of a shock - he did everyone's gardens.

"I can't say a wrong word about him, he was so quiet.

"It's come as a shock to everybody."

One resident, who also did not want to be named, described Mr Mair as "keeping himself to himself".

He said: "He had lived there for years and years, I don't know much about him.

"I would say hello to him but you didn't get much out of him. He seemed really quiet."

West Yorkshire Police said: "There is an ongoing incident in Birstall."

A statement added: "At 12.53 today, police were called to a report of an incident on Market Street, Birstall, where a woman in her 40s had suffered serious injuries and is in a critical condition.

"A man in his late 40s to early 50s nearby also suffered slight injuries.

"Armed officers attended and a 52-year-old man was arrested in the area. There are no further details at present.

"Police presence in the area has been increased as a reassurance to the community."

Yorkshire Ambulance Service said it was "aware" of an incident but had no further information.

MPs reaction

MPs have reacted with horror.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Very concerned about reports Jo Cox has been injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jo and her family."

Neighbouring MP Yvette Cooper said: "Terrible, terrible news. Thoughts and prayers with good friend Jo and with her family."

Labour's John Mann said Ms Cox is an "absolutely outstanding" MP and he was "totally shaken" by the attack.

He told the BBC: "She is one of the real stars of the new intake, not just on the Labour side but on all sides.

"She is hard working, eloquent, everyone likes her, she's one of the real stars of the future."

Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, said: "Terrible news about Jo Cox MP. Praying she will make a full recovery."

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said: "What is happening to the world? Love & prayers to @Jo_Cox1 & all her family."

Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt said: "Thoughts and prayers are with Jo Cox and her family. Horrific attack on a wonderful woman."

Labour's Chuka Umunna said: "Utterly awful news about an attack on a superb and wonderful colleague @Jo_Cox1 - hoping and praying for her and her family right now."

Conservative MP Sir Eric Pickles said he was "very shocked" and he is praying for her recovery.

Tory Steve Baker said: "Utterly appalling news - Godspeed for a quick recovery."

Labour's Lucy Powell said: "Dreadful, dreadful news coming in about my good friend Jo Cox. I really hope all ok. Awful."

Conservative Stewart Jackson said: "I do hope that MP @Jo_Cox1 is ok after incident in her constituency. Shocking news."

Tory Stuart Andrew said: "Horrified to hear the reports about Jo Cox. She's a lovely colleague and someone I respect enormously. My prayers and thoughts for all."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron tweeted: "Utterly, utterly horrific to see reports about @Jo_Cox1. My thoughts and prayers are with her, her family & staff".

SNP MP and Westminster group leader Angus Robertson tweeted: "Appalling news about attack on Labour MP @Jo_Cox1. Best wishes to her and friends from colleagues in @theSNP

A Labour spokesman said: "We're aware of the incident that happened this afternoon.

"All our thoughts are with Jo Cox and her family.

"We cannot give any further updates at this time."

Jo Cox profile

In Parliament for little over a year, Jo Cox has already carved out a reputation as a plain speaker and solid operator.

Relatively young by political standards, Ms Cox is due to celebrate her 42nd birthday next Wednesday, and has been spoken of as a future Minister.

Ms Cox is a Remain supporter in the referendum and both official campaigns have suspended their operations as a mark of respect following the attack on her.

The MP for Batley and Spen, who is married with two children, graduated from Cambridge University in 1995 and went on to be head of policy for Oxfam, and work as an adviser for former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown's wife, Sarah, and Baroness Kinnock.

Ms Cox has been a vocal advocate for the victims of the Syrian civil war and is chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Friends of Syria group.

The MP abstained in last autumn's contentious vote on allowing British military action in Syria, insisting a more wide-ranging attempt at a solution to the conflict was needed.

Chair of the Labour Women's Network, Ms Cox nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership contest last year, but voted for Blairite candidate Liz Kendall in the end.

Ms Cox later said she regretted helping Mr Corbyn get on the ballot paper, and pulled no punches after Labour's poor performance in last month's local and Scottish elections.

As the disappointing results rolled-in, Ms Cox told the BBC: "Jeremy needs to personally recognise that this isn't good enough.

"He needs to take responsibility, he needs to set out a route map to power in 2020, and let's rally first and foremost around the EU referendum.

"We need to look very hard at what's gone wrong in the last eight months and put it right."

Asked if she expected a leadership challenge, Ms Cox said: "Nobody is talking about that now and I don't think it is the right course of action, but the clock is ticking."

Ms Cox was also an advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and to anti-slavery campaign group The Freedom Fund before entering parliament.

Despite growing up in the area, Tories attempted to paint Ms Cox as a candidate "parachuted" into Batley and Spen during the 2015 contest because she and her family's London home was a converted barge moored near Tower Bridge.

But Labour insisted the Tories suffered from "candidate envy" as Ms Cox was registered to vote in the constituency and would divide her time between West Yorkshire and the capital if elected.

Ms Cox secured a majority of 6,057 in the general election, and fellow Labour MP John Mann remarked: "She is one of the stars of the new intake."

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