Police have arrested a suspected terror attacker after five people, including a teenage girl, were stabbed by a man who ran around a Manchester shopping centre ‘lunging at people with a knife’.
Shoppers ran for cover and barricaded themselves into stores after the man swung a blade at random victims, knifing four women and a man near a Starbucks cafe at the city’s Arndale Centre.
Two unarmed PCSOs confronted the knifeman before he was cornered by officers with tasers. Witnesses said they saw police take away a ’12-inch machete’.
A 41-year-old man from Greater Manchester is now being questioned by anti-terror officers on suspicion of ‘the commission, preparation and instigation of an act of terrorism’.
One of the victims, who has been named locally as Chloe McGurk, is a 19-year-old from Northern Ireland on a ‘girly weekend’ in Manchester.
Her injuries are not life-threatening and one of her friends, Ellen Da Conceicao, wrote on Facebook: ‘All we wanted to do was come over to Manchester for a girly weekend but instead the first shopping centre we step into this happens.
‘We’re all so shook and can’t for the life of us understand how someone could be so low to do this.
‘I can’t get that man’s face and knife out of my head and probably won’t for a very long time.’
She said her friend is ‘on the mend’ and thanked everyone for their support.
One shopper described the ‘nightmare’ of seeing the knifeman plunging his blade into the back of one victim as he walked past Starbucks. Photos of the crime scene showed the tables were overturned and some where covered in blood.
A witness said: ‘I heard a woman scream. I span around and saw this guy who had a knife in his hand. It looked like he had stabbed her back. There was blood pouring from her and she just fell to the floor.
‘As soon as I saw the knife I just ran as fast as I could and was warning others what happened. Everyone was looking down from the first floor and there was real panic, people screaming.
‘The police were there in minutes and then we were evacuated. It was like a nightmare. Like something out of a horror film. It was awful. I can’t get that image out of my head.’
Four women, one aged 19, another in her 40s and two others whose ages are unknown, were injured along with a man in his 50s. Two are in a stable condition in hospital but none of their injuries are said to be life-threatening.
Police arrest a suspected terror attacker after five people were stabbed in a random, marauding attack in Manchester today
The suspect, said to be a 41-year-old British man, was taken away and is now being questioned by anti-terror police
A photo from inside the centre shows police and paramedics outside a Starbucks cafe. A shop worker said the knifeman was ‘lunging at people’ as he ran past shops
Pictures from the scene show an injured man and two women being wheeled away from the scene, sitting up in stretchers
A friend of one of the victims from Northern Ireland wrote on Facebook after the attack that ‘all we wanted to do was come over to Manchester for a girly weekend’
Pictures from the scene show three conscious victims – two women and a man – being wheeled out of the shopping centre, sitting up on stretchers. The condition of the other two victims is unclear.
A photo from inside the centre shows paramedics and police dealing with a victim at a table outside a Starbucks coffee shop inside the mall.
Shopper Freddie Houlder, 22, was in the centre when he heard ‘a load of screams just outside’ the store he was in. He said a woman then came into the shop and told others ‘a guy just ran past the shop and tried to stab me’.
Mr Houlder added: ‘Luckily she had quite a thick jacket – she thought originally it was a fake knife because of how easily it grazed off but police came in and said it was a real knife and she burst into tears. She was so lucky she was wearing a thick jacket… he was running around going for as many people as possible.’
He added: ‘I definitely don’t think it was gang violence because this guy was going around trying to stab random people, I believe,’ he added.
Another store worker caught in the chaos said: ‘A man was running around with a knife lunging at multiple people, one of which came into my store visibly shaken with a small graze. Soon after, security staff told all retail staff to close their doors and move the public to the back of the stores.’
Shopper Janet Loudon, 21, said: ‘I came out of work and saw a black man shouting racial slurs like ‘n****r’ and being very hostile towards an Arndale worker, who was also black.
‘I carried on walking but saw police run inside the Arndale and heard someone shout ‘knife’ and another shout ‘bomb’ – I was frantically looking for my friend.
‘That was when I heard that people had been stabbed and everyone was panicking and frantic. We saw a victim slouched between an ATM which was a horrific sight and she was taken away to be helped.’
She added: ‘It wasn’t clear what the man was saying but he was swearing and telling the public “I’m going to f*** you up” repeatedly and he got more and more agitated. He was pointing at the police and Arndale workers and saying things like “just because I’m a n****”.’
Shopper Rachel Vickers, 37, saw the arrest. She said: ‘I saw the man on the ground after he’d been arrested. A female officer was holding what looked like a machete in a plastic tube.’
Another shop worker added: ‘I saw a policewoman with them holding a footlong knife in a tube – I didn’t see if it had blood on it. It was about 12ins long and looked like a machete.’
A young woman appeared to be among the victims after she was stretched away, conscious, by a team of paramedics
Another woman was among the victims wheeled away surrounded by armed police at around midday today
Forensic experts at the scene tonight. Police said: ‘We’re working to understand why he committed his awful attack’
PCSOs drew attacker away from victims
Police told how the knifeman was confronted by two PCSO drew the man away from victims.
Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said today: ‘At 11.15am this morning, a man entered the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester city centre.
‘He was armed with a large knife and as he entered Exchange Court began lunging, attacking people with the knife.
‘Two unarmed police community support officers were in Exchange Court and attempted to confront the attacker.
‘He then chased them with the knife as they were calling for urgent assistance.
‘The man attacked people around him and we understand five people were injured by him.
‘Although the injuries are nasty, we are told that, thankfully, none are life-threatening.’
Another local tweeted: ‘Some fella has just walked in Starbucks in the Arndale and stabbed a load of people apparently. Scary stuff.’
The Arndale Centre is just a few hundred yards from the Manchester Arena and Victoria railway station – both of which have been the scene of recent terror attacks.
Twenty-two people were killed in May 2017 when Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb in the Manchester Arena following an Ariane Grande concert – the youngest victim was just eight years old.
Last New Year’s Eve, three people including a police officer were seriously injured after a 25-year-old man launched a knife attack on passers-by.
The suspect was heard to shout ‘Allah’ and ‘Long live the Caliphate’ during the incident – he was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and his since been detained under the Mental Health Act.
In 1996, the Arndale Centre was damaged in a major bomb attack by the IRA in which a 1,500-kilograms device loaded on a lorry was detonated on Corporation Street.
More than 200 people were injured in the explosion, although there were no fatalities.
Greater Manchester Police have set a wide cordon around the centre as they investigate and armed officers have been drafted in to patrol.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: ‘Shocked by the incident in Manchester and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected. Thank you to our excellent emergency services who responded and who are now investigating what happened.’
A wide cordon has been put around the centre as emergency services deal with those injured. Armed police are on patrol
Scores of police as well as ambulance crews have been sent to the shopping centre. Armed police are patrolling outside
A large team of paramedics have arrived at the centre following reports of multiple stabbings. Five people are injured
Police flew drones over the site this afternoon in an apparent attempt to map the crime scene as part of the investigation
A member of the Malone family, who frequently appear on Channel 4’s Gogglebox, was also caught up in the incident.
Someone tweeted from the Gogglebox Malones’ account that they had been evacuated from the centre.
Do you recognise the arrested man?
Members of the Malone family to appear on the show are parents Julie and Tom Snr and their sons Tom Jr and Shaun.
Tom and Julie Malone also have two other children and two grandchildren.
One of them posted: ‘A big thank you to all MCR Arndale security and the police who attended so quickly x
‘Prayers to those that have been hurt, I’m just sat outside the city centre shaking a little bit and hugging my grandkids.’
The Arndale Centre is a large shopping mall which contains more than 90 shops, restaurants and cafes in Manchester centre
Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said the suspect had been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of an act of terrorism.
Attack will ‘bring back memories’ of Arena bombing
One of the UK’s most deadly terrorist attacks in recent years occurred on May 22 2017 when Salman Abedi detonated a suicide belt at the Manchester Arena.
Assistant chief constable Russ Jackson said today: ‘We don’t know the motivation for the attack. It was brutal and extremely frightening for everyone who witnessed it.
‘It’s bound to bring back memories of 2017. We don’t believe anyone else was involved but we are keeping it under review.
‘We’ll have increased patrols and armed patrols in the city centre to reassure people.
‘We don’t believe there is another threat and we’re hoping to return the city to normal tomorrow morning.
‘The response was rapid and the attacker is safely in custody and we’re working to understand why he committed his awful attack.’
Police confirmed the victims included three woman, one 19, one in her 40s and another whose age was not given, and a man in his 50s.
The police spokesman added: ‘We were called to reports of a multiple stabbing at the Arndale shopping centre at 11.15am earlier today.
‘At this stage we believe that four people were injured during the incident – not five as previously reported. We will update as the situation becomes clear.
‘A 19-year-old woman– was taken to hospital with stab wounds. Another woman was also taken to hospital with stab injuries. Both their conditions are described as stable.
‘A man in his 50s has also been taken to hospital with stab wounds. A fourth victim – a woman in her 40s – who was not stabbed – has been assessed and did not need to go to hospital following assessment by paramedics.
‘A man in his 40s – who was arrested at the scene on suspicion of serious assault – remains in custody for questioning.’
Another victim, a woman, presented herself to hospital with non-serious injuries.
One witness was leaving the nearby Football Museum when people were evacuated.
He said: ‘There were loads of police and ambulance. Everyone was coming out quite calmly, it seemed quite organised. The trams have stopped outside and no one is being allowed in.’
Police said several people have been stabbed and the investigation is in its early stages
Police say they are keeping an open mind over the motivation behind the multiple stabbings but counter-terror are involved
Shoppers and workers were evacuated from the centre and ushered to an area outside of the police cordon
The shopping centre has been evacuated as emergency services help the wounded and deal with the arrested man.
David Allinson, Centre Director, Manchester Arndale, said: ‘A serious incident has taken place at Manchester Arndale this morning. The centre has been evacuated while police investigate the incident.
‘We are unable to comment any further as the incident is currently being handled by Greater Manchester Police, who we will continue to support with their investigation.
Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing, crime and fire, said: ‘I want to praise Greater Manchester’s emergency services for their swift and professional action. Our thoughts are with the five people injured. The scene has been secured and all emergency services are engaged in ensuring public safety – the investigation is ongoing.’
Emergency services are holding a joint ‘Gold’ meeting this afternoon.