Hunt for knifeman after fatal stabbing spree in Birmingham

A massive manhunt is under way for a lone knifeman who went on a 90-minute rampage in Birmingham city centre overnight, killing a man and injuring seven other people.

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 racing 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, said the incidents appeared to be "random", with "no suggestion" the night's events were linked to terrorism.

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Police forensics officers gather evidence inside a cordon on Hurst Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - One man was killed and two people were critically injured during a "random" stabbing attack lasting several hours in Britain's second city of Birmingham, police said on Sunday. Detectives said they were hunting one suspect after being called to reports of stabbings at four separate locations in the city centre between 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) and 2:30 am. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police forensics officers gather evidence on Hurst Walk, inside a cordon at Hurst Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - One man was killed and two people were critically injured during a "random" stabbing attack lasting several hours in Britain's second city of Birmingham, police said on Sunday. Detectives said they were hunting one suspect after being called to reports of stabbings at four separate locations in the city centre between 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) and 2:30 am. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A police forensics officer gathers evidence near to forensics tents and evidence markers inside a cordon on Irving Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A police forensic officer taking photographs in Hurst Street, in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
RETRANSMISSION CORRECTING HURST STREET TO HURST WALK Three police forensics officers at making way down Hurst Walk in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. Police are searching for one suspect following the stabbings in the city centre in which one man was killed and seven other people injured.
A police forensics officer in overalls (right), alongside a colleague, in Irving Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police forensics officer gathers evidence near to forensics tents and evidence markers inside a cordon on Irving Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police forensics officers gather evidence near to forensics tents and evidence markers inside a cordon on Irving Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police guard a cordon on Livery Street following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police gather evidence near to forensics tents and evidence markers inside a cordon on Irving Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A small forensics tent is seen at the junction of Church Street and Barwick Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police guard a cordon on Edmund Street following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police guard a cordon on Livery Street following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A police officer stands near to a small forensics tent as he mans a cordon at the junction of Church Street and Barwick Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police guard a cordon on Livery Street following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A police officer stands near to a small forensics tent as he mans a cordon at the junction of Church Street and Barwick Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A police forensics officer holding a sealed container with a black handled knife inside, in Edmund Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police forensic officer looks under a small blue police tent covering an area of road in Irving Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police forensics officer taking photographs in Irving Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Police officers at a cordon in Hurst Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Two police forensics officers in Livery Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Forensics officers walk past a police officer directing a member of the public, inside the cordoned area in Barwick Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police officer at a cordon in Hurst Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A discarded blanket at the scene in Hurst Street, Birmingham, after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Two police forensics officers at the cordoned area in Barwick Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Police officers at a cordon in Hurst Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police forensics officer looks under a small blue police tent covering an area of pavement in Livery Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
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He said: "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."

The force's police and crime commissioner David Jamieson labelled 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.

He also moved to end speculation the violence was linked to people "squabbling over tables".

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."

Home Secretary Priti Patel also said "all her thoughts" were with people affected by the "shocking incident" in the city.

"Our emergency services are working hard to find whoever is responsible and bring them to justice," she tweeted.

Police forensic officers in Hurst Walk in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)
Police forensic officers in Hurst Walk in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)

Mr Graham said initial calls were to reports of a stabbing in Constitution Hill around 12.30am, and then at the nearby Livery Street next to Snow Hill railway station.

Paramedics said they responded to first reports of a call in Livery Street, in the north of the city centre, at about 12.40am.

The attacker then moved "north to south" through the city centre, said Mr Graham, into the heart of the city's Gay Village quarter.

However, it was over an hour between the Livery Street violence and the next attack, reported in Irving Street, across the city, at 1.52am.

Shortly afterwards, the emergency services were called to another knife assault in Hurst Street at 2am.

David Nash, a bar manager at The Village Inn, The Nightingale Inn and The Loft Lounge, said he came within 10 metres of a hooded suspect, spotted running from the scene of the stabbings, in Hurst Street.

He said: "I was on the street around 2.20am and we heard somebody shout down the street 'stop him, he's just stabbed somebody'.

"Initially it was a guy with a black hoodie on with the hood pulled up over his head, who was walking relatively casually.

"As soon as somebody shouted 'stop him' that's when he ran off into the area of Sherlock Street."

Mr Nash said the person was "calm" and walking unhurriedly, until someone shouted the alarm.

Praising the emergency services' swift response, he described later witnessing paramedics treating a casualty for what appeared to be a neck wound.

A police forensics officer holding a sealed container with a black handled knife inside, in Edmund Street in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)
A police forensics officer holding a sealed container with a black handled knife inside, in Edmund Street in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)

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.

Asked as to a possible motive, Mr Graham said: "At this stage we can't find a particular motive but it does appear to be random in terms of the selection of people who were attacked."

He added: "We don't know who the subject is."

Mr Graham warned people coming to the city to give anyone suspicious "a wide berth", as a trawl through vast amounts of CCTV begins to track the suspect's movements.

He added: "What we are not saying at the moment is that Birmingham is not a safe place to be."

Asked how he could assert 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.

"People should be assured we have got a significant hunt for that subject, ongoing," he added.

Mr Graham confirmed there had, as yet, been no arrests.

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".

Police marker indicating possible specks of blood on Hurst Walk (Jacob King/PA)
Police marker indicating possible specks of blood on Hurst Walk (Jacob King/PA)

He added: "There was no suggestion people had seen him running out, area searches were being made at the time, unfortunately the subject wasn't caught."

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said it sent a large number of resources in response to the stabbings, including 14 ambulances.

A team of St John Ambulance volunteers based at the Arcadian nightspot was also involved in treating casualties.

Seven patients were treated by ambulance staff – five of whom were taken to the major trauma centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Three of the five taken to the major trauma centre had critical injuries and one man was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, WMAS said.

An eighth patient with minor injuries did not receive treatment.

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.

A police forensic officer looks under a small blue police tent covering an area of road in Irving Street in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)
A police forensic officer looks under a small blue police tent covering an area of road in Irving Street in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)

What appeared to be used sterilised bandage wrappers could be seen next to a dark patch on the footpath, beneath a small blue forensics tent, in Barwick Street.

Just a few dozen yards away another blue tent could be seen in Livery Street, with armed police officers nearby.

Around the corner was a trail of what appeared to be dried blood spots along Newhall Street and Colmore Row, a grim reminder of the night's shocking violence.

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 linked the knife find to the attacks.

He appealed to any witnesses, anyone with social media videos and photos or CCTV of the incidents to urgently contact police.

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