An witness to the Birmingham stabbings has today described the moment he saw a woman ‘stabbed in the neck’ during the horror attack – which left one dead, seven injured and police hunting for an on-the-run knifeman.
Bar owner Savvas Sfrantziz says he saw the man, who he describes as ‘black, in his 20s and wearing a hoodie’, stab the woman ‘several times’ in the neck before ‘walking away’.
It comes as murder detectives launch a manhunt for a lone knifeman following the stabbings, which took place in four areas of the West Midlands city across a two hour period in the early hours of this morning.
One man died in the stabbings, while seven were injured, including two people, a man and a woman, who are said to be in a critical condition in hospital with serious injuries.
Speaking about the attack, Mr Sfrantziz, who owns Mykonos bar on Hurst Street, where one of the attacks took place, told : ‘I saw him stabbing the girl several times in the neck. I was only about 20 yards away
‘She started screaming: ‘He’s stabbing me.’ But everybody thought he was robbing her because she had a necklace.
‘He wasn’t concerned, he wasn’t worried, after he stabbed the girl he started walking away.’
Today, police chiefs revealed how they believed the victims were targeted ‘at random’ and that there is ‘no suggestion’ at this time that the stabbings were related to terrorism, gangs or hate crime.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: ‘We can now confirm that we’ve launched a murder investigation following the events in Birmingham city centre overnight.
‘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.
‘We believe the incidents, which took place between 12.30am and 2.20am, are linked and we’re doing all we can to find whoever was responsible.
‘Detectives are following a number of lines of enquiry and we’ve increased our uniformed and armed response in the city.
The West Midlands police and crime commissioner has said a rise in violence was ‘almost inevitable’ due to the pandemic in the wake of a spate of stabbings in Birmingham.
David Jamieson spoke at a press conference following the stabbings in Birmingham, telling reporters the city was ‘well used to activity’.
He said: ‘I think what is different is the randomness of this particular event but also the number of other events that were happening as well.
‘The amount of violence that was happening is actually very, very disturbing.’
Mr Jamieson said a rise in violence should be expected due to the lockdown and pandemic, though he added that Sunday’s incident may not be connected.
He continued: ‘I have been saying for some time, in the context of Covid-19, that a lot of the pent-up feelings that people have, and not being able to get out, and combine that with people who are now unsure about their future and about their jobs, it was almost inevitable that we would see a growth in violence.
‘I’m not saying that this is directly related to that, but nevertheless we are seeing now a growth of violence among younger people, particularly younger males, we’re seeing that growing across the region.
‘My fear is that if we don’t address that and some of the underlying problems with some urgency then we could see that grow.
‘But, notwithstanding that, Birmingham is a good place, it’s a good place to be, it’s a safe city and it is regrettable that this awful incident happened last night.’
‘We continue to hold a number of scenes across the city, including Livery Street, Irving Street and Hurst Street.’
Officers were first called to reports of a stabbing in the city centre at around 12.30am on Sunday.
Police say the incident began in Constitution Hill in the north of the city centre, moving towards the junction of Livery Street and Barwick Street in the Snow Hill area.
The attacker then moved south through the city centre before there were further attacks on Irving Street and Hurst Street, police believe.
Officers say there were multiple stabbings at each of the locations. Cordons are currently in place in each of the areas, including a forensic tent in Irving Street and Livery Street.
West Midlands Police did not reveal at which of the locations the murder took place. They say that no arrests have yet been made.
Detectives continue to hunt for a lone knifeman, but have released no further details. They say detectives are reviewing CCTV in the area and are appealing for anyone with mobile phone footage to come forward.
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham, responsible for policing in Birmingham, said: ‘The events during the early hours of this morning are tragic, shocking and understandably frightening.
‘Please be assured that we are doing absolutely everything we can to find whoever was responsible and try to understand what exactly happened.
‘We have well-rehearsed plans for dealing with major incidents. Your safety is always our priority and that’s why you’ll see an increase in officers on the streets.
‘In the meantime, we’d ask anyone who’s in the city to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to us.’
Meanwhile, West Midlands Police said there was ‘no suggestion’ gunshots had been fired, following comments on social media.
The force added that its response to the incident will continue ‘for some time’.