‘Drop the sword!’: Witnesses describe attack horror

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By Mark Lobel, in Hainault
BBC News

The sickening images being shared among people in Hainault capture in unforgiving detail the horror which unfolded here today.

As panic spread around this corner of north-east London, some did the only thing they felt they could: took out their phones and captured the attack as it happened.

One video shows what appears to be a body in the street.

The stunned resident filming can be heard shrieking, swearing and then saying these unimaginable words: “He just killed that boy. He just killed him right outside my house.”

It is hard to take in what people here have seen – and I am told that video has been circulated on Instagram amongst local school children.

The people of Hainault are still processing how a quiet, sunny spring morning descended into bloody panic.

By the end of it, a 14-year-old boy was dead, and four other people were in hospital.

The suspect was seen carrying a samurai-style sword at around 07:00 BST

The attacker was seen looking into people’s homes and clambering into gardens as he marauded around the area.

One woman described her fear as she hid from him.

She said: “We were very scared and trying to hide and not show ourselves through the window, because he was standing right next to our house.

“He could have seen us if he looked up.”

The shock and sadness of residents here has been palpable all day.

In the hours between the attack ending and police confirming the death of the child, Alisha Khan spoke to us from her doorstep – close to where police had blocked off roads next to the town’s Underground station.

“Nothing like that ever happens here,” she said, before opening up about how she feared for her traumatised young daughter who woke to the sight of police swarming their neighbourhood.

Watch: Police pursue sword stabbing suspect as he climbs over garage roofs

The first residents knew of the attack was when a car “smashed into a house”, as one person who lived opposite put it.

Eyewitness James Fernando, 39, said the attacker approached his female neighbour and asked her to “take the telephone from him to tell whoever was on the phone his location”.

Realising something wasn’t right, she started running away as he “pulled a samurai sword from the back of his trousers”.

Mr Fernando said the woman then shouted out to a “boy who was on his way to school”.

The attacker struck the boy and then continued to prowl the streets “with the sword in his hand looking for victims”, Mr Fernando said.

Another eyewitness, Manpreet Singh, said he walked out of his office to see “chaos” on the other side of the road as passers-by tried to contain the attacker.

He told the BBC: “I saw a group of people, five or six of them, trying to fight off a guy – he had a sword in his hand.”

A damaged van was left abandoned on Laing Close

Mr Singh said one of those involved in the effort was stabbed, as the others tried to call the police and ambulance.

The attacker fled and tried to enter a home but could not get the door to open.

David Maguire was on his way to the station when he saw an injured person with blood covering his hands.

He said: “With everyone rushing towards you, you don’t know who to trust in that situation. You don’t know who has got the knife, who hasn’t got the knife.

“It turns out it was a lone person 50 yards up from where I was… Two minutes earlier, it could have been me.”

As the police pursued the 36-year-old suspect, they were heard shouting at him to “drop the sword” but their warnings were ignored.

They pursued the suspect as he climbed onto a garage roof and into someone’s garden.

A police officer can be heard desperately screaming out “lock your doors, everyone lock your doors”.

The attack was brought to an end when the man was Tasered in a garden.

Footage from a doorbell camera captures the moment the suspect was finally cornered and forced back against a front door, before being pinned down.

The suspect was finally cornered and Tasered in a garden

We spoke to a person outside whose home the rampage came to an end.

He said: “He went into that driveway and he was being Tasered, being told to stop, then he jumped into that other neighbour’s driveway there.

“He was being Tasered, went to the floor with all the armed police officers around and he was subdued there for half an hour.”

Four people – two of whom are police officers – are still in hospital being treated for their wounds.

The carnage played out over just 22 minutes – but it will take far longer than that for the people of Hainault to comprehend what they have seen today.

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