Witness describes horror of street fight that left three men dead
Witnesses have described the “horrific” aftermath of violence that saw three men stabbed to death in a residential street.
A fight between groups of Sikh men in Ilford, east London on Sunday evening escalated into a fatal clash, according to police.
Scaffolder Louis O’Donoghoe, 40, was watching TV when he heard screaming and shouting outside his house, in what he said sounded like a foreign language.
“It was just chaos, absolute chaos. It was like something out of a movie, horrific,” Mr O’Donoghoe, who is originally from Middlesbrough, said of the aftermath.
He saw the ambulance service working on one person, and then realised there were another two bodies, at which point he went outside to see what was going on.
“I could see it all: one (body) to the left, two at the bottom of the stairs. It was like a bad day in Bosnia. It was pretty horrific really. I’ve never seen anything like it to be honest. It’s like something on a movie.”
He said his girlfriend was left “distraught” by what happened, and he had come home from work early on Monday to be with her.
Police responded to reports of a disturbance in Elmstead Road in Seven Kings on Sunday at 7.38pm.
Three men were pronounced dead at the scene and Metropolitan Police said they were believed to have been aged in their 20s or 30s.
Two men, aged 29 and 39, have been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Speaking at the scene on Monday, Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman said the suspects and victims were all known to each other.
“We believe the groups involved are members of the Sikh community,” he said.
He added in a later statement: “A fight has taken place which has escalated, resulting in three people being fatally attacked.”
He gave no further details on the deceased men as officers were still contacting their families.
“It was a horrific scene for anyone to come across and my heart goes out to the families and those affected by it, because it is unprecedented to have something like this,” he added.
While the motive was still being investigated, police have ruled out terrorism, he said.
A wide police cordon was in place in the area near Seven Kings railway station throughout the day as forensics officers and police dogs worked at the scene.
A forensics tent was visible earlier on Monday near a stairway, which locals said leads to the railway station.
The owner of Seven Kings Cars, opposite the station’s main entrance, said a man with blood on his hands had approached him on Sunday evening asking for help.
Nadeem Rana told the PA news agency: “I was shocked. He had blood on his hands and he said there were people in very poor condition.”
The man and a passenger who had been waiting for a taxi then went towards the scene, Mr Rana said.
During a visit to the area, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan described the incident as “shocking, horrific and scary”.
Standing with Mr Clayman, he told reporters: “We’ve seen over the last few years they (police) are under-resourced and overstretched and they need our help to deal with the scourge of the increase in knife crime we’ve seen across our country, and London hasn’t escaped that.”
Mr Khan met with local residents, some of whom complained of antisocial behaviour in the area, including drug-dealing, and they called for more police on the streets.
Sukhbir Bassi, a member of the Singh Sabha Sikh temple, works with young people and told Mr Khan the city’s east is “not safe”.
“We appreciate you coming down but in Parliament they need to listen. East London is not safe. We need more police officers,” he said.
There will be an increased police presence in the area in the coming days to provide reassurance to locals, Mr Clayman said.
Formal identification and post-mortem examinations of the victims is yet to take place.
Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council, said he believed it was an isolated incident.
“An incident like this is unheard of within the Sikh community here in Redbridge,” he said. “We’ve got to look at the causes of why this happened and address those.”
He was critical of bloody footage shared on social media appearing to show the aftermath of the killings.
“I think the first response should be ‘What can we do to help?’. To put it on social media is not right.”
So far in 2020 there have been six homicides in the capital. Last year there were 149, a rise from 133 in 2018, despite a drop nationally.