Manchester terror: family of knife attack suspect speak out after he is detained under Mental Health Act
The family of the suspect in the stabbings at Manchester Victoria Station on New Year’s Eve has released a statement after he was been detained under the Mental Health Act.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were seriously injured, their families and friends,” the statement read.
“We are also eternally grateful for the swift response from the emergency services and the comfort given to those affected by fellow Mancunians and citizens.
“The GMP [sic] have informed us that our family member is currently detained under the Mental Health Act and is being treated by specialist medical staff.
“We are acutely aware that many, including within the media, may well have many questions to ask us. However, we have been informed by the GMP that there is an active ongoing, terrorist investigation and as such we are limited in what we can say at this stage.
“It is important that the police investigations take its course and any reports and articles avoid any assumptions, speculations and generalisations.
“We do not wish to make any further comment at this time.”
Police said the 25-year-old man arrested over the stabbings has been detained under the Mental Health Act on Tuesday evening after being assessed by medical staff.
This comes after a police sergeant stabbed in the incident was praised for showing “incredible bravery” to prevent a suspected terrorist from rampaging through a train station just yards from the scene of the Manchester Arena suicide bombing.
A couple in their 50s were seriously injured in the “frenzied” and “random” New Year’s Eve attack on a platform at Manchester Victoria Metrolink station.
The police officer, who is in his 30s, was also wounded as he and three colleagues rushed to the scene after hearing “a blood curdling scream”.
Police said that a terrorism investigation into the incident “remains ongoing”.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, on Tuesday said the attack had been deliberately staged close to the site of the Manchester Arena bombing, which killed 22 people in 2017.
Police chiefs and politicians praised the officers’ actions in putting themselves at risk to save the couple and prevent the man, who was dressed in black, marauding through the station just before 9pm. He had been heard shouting Isil-inspired slogans during the attack and after his initial arrest on suspicion of attempted murder.
Asst Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan from British Transport Police said: “I am incredibly proud of the four officers who were immediately on scene last night, detaining a man who was wielding a knife.
“They were fearless, running towards danger and preventing further harm coming to passengers.” The suspect, aged 25, was caught on video shouting “Allahu akbar” – meaning “God is great” in Arabic – as he was ushered into the back of a police van following his arrest.
Witnesses said he was heard to scream: “Long live the Caliphate” in possible reference to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), while another claimed he shouted: “As long as you keep bombing other countries, this sort of s—- is going to keep happening.”
A house in Cheetham Hill, north Manchester – thought to be his last known address – was searched yesterday by counter-terrorism police. Neighbours suggested the suspect was of Somali-origin and was thought to have lived in the Netherlands before moving to the UK about 10 to 15 years ago.
One neighbour said his mother, who has five children, was a nurse while his brother worked at Manchester airport. A police source said the suspect was refusing to cooperate and detectives were working to establish his identity. He is believed to have acted alone,
In a statement Greater Manchester Police, said on Tuesday evening: “The 25 year old man arrested on 31 January 2018 following the incident at Manchester Victoria Station has been assessed by specialist medical staff and detained under the Mental Health Act.
“The Counter Terrorism investigation remains ongoing.”
“There is nothing to suggest the involvement of other people in this attack, but confirming this remains a main priority for the investigation.”
The attack took place at a tram station that forms part of the complex that includes the Manchester Arena, where in May 2017, Salman Abedi, an Isil supporter, blew himself up killing 23 people, more than half of them children, as they left an Ariana Grande concert.
Mr Burnham told The Telegraph: “This attack has brought back some very painful memories for everyone involved, particularly given how close it was to the Manchester Arena, which appears to have been deliberate.But the city is strong, united and resilient and the way the incident was dealt with by the emergency services and others was exemplary.”
Video footage from the scene shows the man pinned to the ground by police. He was thought to have carried two knives, one of which appeared to be a foot-long kitchen knife.
In the days before the New Year’s Eve attack, Isil had urged its followers to carry out a knife attack in the UK.
The British Transport Police officers had been patrolling the adjacent Victoria train station when they rushed to help the couple from Manchester who suffered multiple stab wounds. They used a Taser stun gun and “Captor gel”, an irritant designed to incapacitate suspects, in arresting the man.
The woman was stabbed in the face – suffering a “significant injury” to her forehead – while the man was wounded in the stomach. They are expected to remain in hospital for some time while the officer stabbed in the shoulder was discharged on Tuesday morning.
Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “My thoughts are with the couple who are still being treated in hospital for their serious injuries and with the brave British Transport Police officer who was also stabbed during the attack. We are treating this as a terrorist investigation which is being led by counter terrorism officers with support from Greater Manchester Police.”