Police release CCTV footage in hunt for Birmingham stabbings suspect

Police release CCTV footage in hunt for Birmingham stabbings suspect thumbnail

The latest headlines in your inbox twice a day Monday – Friday plus breaking news updates

Police have released footage of a man they want to speak to about the Birmingham city centre stabbings.

A manhunt is underway after a lone knifeman went on a 90-minute rampage in the 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.

The CCTV footage released by police on Sunday night shows a man wearing a baseball cap, and wearing a dark hoodie with distinctive white drawstrings.​

Also wearing dark-coloured trousers and shoes, he can be seen standing and walking on a street corner.

West Midlands Police confirmed the man in the CCTV images is wanted on suspicion of murder.

Mr Graham said: “We have worked throughout the day to trawl CCTV footage and speak to witnesses to ensure we release the best possible video and image of the man we want to speak to.

“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.

“We have a hotline number and a dedicated web page where you can submit information, photos and videos. If you see him, please do not approach him, but dial 999 immediately.”

Police have released footage of a man they want to speak to in connection with the attacks (PA)

Mr Graham 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.”

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”.

A police officer and vehicles at a cordon in Irving Street (PA Wire/PA Images)

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.

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 in Irving Street, across the city, at 1.52am which left a man fatally injured.

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

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.

Police are searching for one suspect following the stabbings (PA)

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.

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.

“I was on the street around 2.20am and we heard somebody shout down the street ‘stop him, he’s just stabbed somebody’,” he said.

“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.”

Forensic officers seen near the scene of the stabbings in Birmingham city centre (REUTERS)

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.

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.”

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.

Forensic officers gather evidence inside a cordon on Hurst Street (AFP via Getty Images)

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”.

“There was no suggestion people had seen him running out, area searches were being made at the time, unfortunately the subject wasn’t caught,” he added.

West Midlands Ambulance Service 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.

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