Detectives have released CCTV footage of a man they want to trace as the hunt for a knifeman who killed one person in Birmingham, and injured seven others, continues.
West Midlands Police said three hours after making the footage public: “We’ve had a strong response following our appeal to trace the #BirminghamStabbings suspect. Our detectives are following up several new lines of enquiry. This man is wanted on suspicion of murder. Recognise him?”
The public have been urged not to approach the individual shown in the short clips shared on social media, but to call 999 immediately if he is spotted.
With no arrests made, a massive manhunt is under way for a lone suspect who went on a 90-minute rampage in Birmingham city centre overnight.
West Midlands Police declared a major incident after being called to reports of a stabbing just after midnight on Sunday, before more calls came in of further attacks.
Detectives are now trying to catch a male suspect who managed to evade capture last night, with “significant resources” now deployed, said senior police officers.
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham, of West Midlands Police, earlier said the incidents appeared to be “random”, with “no suggestion” the night’s events were linked to terrorism.
Police said a 23-year-old man had suffered fatal injuries, while a man and a woman, aged 19 and 32, suffered critical injuries.
Five other people, aged between 23 and 33, were also injured. They were treated in hospital and so far two have been discharged.
In the footage released by police, a man is shown wearing a dark-coloured baseball cap and zip-up hoodie with white drawstrings.
Also wearing dark-coloured trousers and shoes, he can be seen standing and walking on a street corner.
Mr Graham said: “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.”
The force’s police and crime commissioner, David Jamieson, earlier called the assaults “disturbing”, with the violence enfolding as revellers had been enjoying the night.
Speaking at a press conference at the force’s headquarters, itself only yards from where the initial attacks unfolded, Mr Graham said there was also nothing suggesting it was a hate crime or connected to city gang violence.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked the emergency services.
He tweeted: “All my thoughts are with those affected by the terrible incident in Birmingham last night.”
Police said they received the first call to Constitution Hill, to the north of the city centre, just after 12.30am, where a man had received a superficial injury.
All my thoughts are with those affected by the terrible incident in Birmingham last night.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 6, 2020
My thanks to the emergency services who are working hard at the scene. Anyone with information should contact @WMPolice
This was followed by a further call 20 minutes later to nearby Livery Street, next to Snow Hill railway station. A 19-year-old man was critically injured and a woman was also injured.
An hour later at 1.50am, officers were called to Irving Street, to the south of the city centre, where a man died and another man suffered serious injuries.
Ten minutes later police were called to Hurst Street, in the heart of the city’s Gay Village quarter, where a 32-year-old woman was seriously injured and two men received lesser injuries.
Savvas Sfrantzis, who owns Mykonos bar and grill in Hurst Street, said he witnessed a woman being repeatedly stabbed, just across the street, after he was alerted by her screams.
He said: “I looked at him, facing him, and I can see he had a blade, small, not very big, and he was stabbing her in the neck.”
He described how the attacker was “so cold”, walking calmly away and “smirking”, while other bar staff bravely tried to follow him.
Mr Graham said the wounds of those targeted “were consistent with people being attacked by knives” with “no suggestion of gunshots”, despite initial reports gunfire had been heard.
Earlier asked how he could say the city was safe with the attacker still at large, Mr Graham said the force had “a significant presence” of officers, armed and unarmed, if the suspect was sighted.
Also asked how the knifeman was able to move through the city centre for more than two hours without being caught, Mr Graham described the suspect’s route through Birmingham as “relatively unusual”.
He later added: “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.”
There remained a heavy police presence in the city centre on Sunday, with armed officers, patrols, riot vans and squad cars visible among the city’s visitors and weekend workers.
Police said extras officers had “flooded” the city centre, with four scenes being held and examined by forensic experts throughout the day.
In Edmund Street, drain covers were being lifted and at one stage a black-handled serrated kitchen knife was removed from the muck and debris and carefully bagged as evidence.
Mr Graham said it was “too early” to link the knife find to the attacks.