Manhunt continues for suspect in alkaline substance attack

Manhunt continues for suspect in alkaline substance attack thumbnail

The suspect in an alkaline substance attack which left a woman and her little daughter with potentially life-changing injuries continued to be sought by police on Friday as it emerged he was convicted of a sex offence in 2018.

Abdul Ezedi, 35, from the Newcastle area, who was described by Metropolitan Police Superintendent Gabriel Cameron as having “significant injuries to the right side of his face”, was last seen at a Tesco Express on Caledonian Road in north London on Wednesday evening.

Met detectives on Thursday released a CCTV picture of him captured at the shop at 8.48pm – just over an hour after the alkali attack about 5.4 miles away on a street in Clapham.

A 31-year-old woman, believed to be known to Ezedi, and her daughters aged three and eight were injured in the attack. They remain in hospital in a stable condition.

It is understood that Ezedi was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018. It is also understood that he was later granted asylum after two failed attempts.

Mr Cameron named the suspect on Thursday as he spoke to reporters at the scene of the attack in Lessar Avenue.

Ezedi had suffered “significant injuries” to the right side of his face, Mr Cameron said, as seen in an image released by the Met on Thursday evening.

Ezedi pictured at the Tesco Express with ‘significant injuries’ to the right side of his face

Metropolitan Police

Mr Cameron said: “The image is taken from the Tesco store, where Ezedi is believed to have purchased a bottle of water. He left the shop and turned right.

“The image shows Ezedi with what appears to be significant injuries to the right side of his face. This makes him distinctive.”

He said anyone who spotted the suspect should not approach him and call 999.

The manhunt was launched after the mother and her two daughters were injured in a “targeted” attack which saw 11 people taken to hospital.

The suspect fled after the incident in Lessar Avenue around 7.25pm on Wednesday night.

Police said the man attempted to make off in a car but collided with a stationary vehicle and fled on foot in the direction of Clapham Common.

Hero passers-by rushed to help the mother who was shouting “My eyes! My eyes! Help me! I can’t see!”.

Wanted: Abdul Ezedi

Met Police

They said they saw her lips turn black and skin strip off her face.

Superintendent Cameron said the woman and the three-year-old were in a “stable” condition, although they may have suffered “life-changing” injuries.

He said police were working with Northumbria Police and British Transport Police to locate Ezedi, who is believed to be from the Newcastle area.

“He could be going back there, he may not be, but he could be,” Mr Cameron added.

The officer urged the public not to approach Ezedi, after the Met previously described him as a “dangerous individual”.

Mr Cameron told reporters: “We will catch him. I’m wholeheartedly confident. He may have been known to police.

“It’s a horrific crime against a vulnerable female and we take that very seriously. We take violence against women and girls very seriously.” 

He added the attack would have been “horrific and shocking” for the mother.

Ezedi is believed to have travelled down from Newcastle on the day of the attack, but detectives are currently unsure what led to the incident.

On Thursday morning forensics teams at the scene inspected a coffee cup which may have been used to throw the substance.

Police at the scene of an incident near Clapham Common, south London


Distressing footage from the scene shows the man throwing one of the girls – both dressed in school uniform – to the ground “like a ragdoll” before hurling what police called an “alkaline substance” at all three females.

Shannon Christi, 35, described how the suspect manhandled the younger girl from a white car before spraying the woman in the face.

Ms Christi told the Standard: “I heard a bang of a car accident, then a scream.

“A man threw a child to the floor twice. I ran over and grabbed the girl. She was crying. The mother had been sprayed with something and her eyes were red and she was saying ‘I can’t see’. There were two other children.”

She added: “My partner came out. He was in his slippers and chased the man, but he got away.”

The Metropolitan Police said the woman and her three-year-old daughter, alongside her other daughter, aged eight, remain in hospital.

Five police officers and three “brave” women – two in their 30s and one in her 50s – were also taken to hospital suffering minor burns injuries but were discharged after treatment.

Ms Christi, one of those treated for burns, added: “I think the girl had some of the substance on her coat. My lips and arm were burning. I had to go to hospital but am okay. I hope the woman is too, she looked like she could have been badly hurt.”

An NHS worker saw the younger child “thrown to the ground like a ragdoll”.

She said: “It was horrendous. I heard people screaming. I saw a car I thought had been in an accident. I saw him come out of driver’s side and take a child from the back of the car.

“He extended his arms and threw her like a rag doll. He threw her to the ground. Then he did it again. I thought she was dead. She didn’t make any noise.

“I heard the second child say, ‘I want my mum, I want my mum’. I was so relieved she was alive.

“I saw a silver canister that may have been what the corrosive substance was in.”

Megan Shannon heard the woman shouting “help me, help me” and went out to see locals crouched down next to baby clothes discarded on the ground.

The marketing assistant, 24, said: “They were desperate cries.

“It was horrible. I’ve only just moved from Cornwall for a new job. I’m terrified.”

Mohamed Ilyas, 18, said: “The guy tried to run the woman over. He was composed during the whole thing, like it was something he did all the time.”

A suspected corrosive substance was thrown at a woman and her two young children


A porter at the nearby Belvedere Hotel said the woman was taken there for shelter.

He said: “She was brought here and staff tried to help. Then the paramedics came. We did our best for her.”

Mr Cameron thanked members of the public and Lambeth officers who “deserve enormous recognition and praise for coming to the aid of this woman and children in what must have been a terrifying scenario”.

Thursday’s Standard front page

Evening Standard

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley described the attack as “ghastly” on Thursday morning.

“It’s frightening. Fortunately attacks using acid and chemicals are exceedingly rare, we did have a spate of them two or three years ago but it’s not something we’ve seen much of at all recently.

“This is a ghastly attack. We have a live manhunt, the suspected offender we believe was known to the victims and so we have a big team of officers, the local officers who dealt with it assisted by specialist crime colleagues, and we’re hunting for him as we speak.

“The second thing to call out is the victim, the woman and her two young daughters. That’s a horrific thing to happen.

“They’re still in hospital, I think some of the burns are potentially quite substantial but I don’t know that for certain, so we wish them well.

“Thirdly to call out the bravery of members of the public and my officers.

“Four members of the public got involved, three women and a men, three of them have had hospital treatment and been discharged, and four or five officers got involved and had to go to hospital and get checked out for their contact with the chemicals.

“So difficult, difficult moments, but London, the police and the communities have come together to try and rescue the situation.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Last night’s incident in Clapham is truly shocking. My thoughts are with all those who have been injured, especially the woman and two children who remain in hospital.”

Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said: “It seems the individuals were known to each other. This is a horrible and specific attack. There is not believed to be anyone going around carrying out random attacks. It was a feud. These are targeted attacks.”

She hailed a man who chased the suspect in his slippers as an “an absolute hero.”

Anyone who saw what happened can call police on 101, quoting reference CAD 7790/31Jan, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.