In a rapidly developing police investigation into the murder of a 25 year old soldier in Woolwich yesterday, the Met Police have announced that they have made two further arrests and executed six search warrants “three in south London, one in east London, one in north London and one in Lincoln.”
The soldier has been named as Drummer Lee Rigby who was working in Army recruitment at the time of his death.
The two men shot and wounded in the John Wilson Street area yesterday afternoon, aged 22 and 28, have both been formally arrested on suspicion of murder. A man and a woman, both 29, have been arrested “on suspicion of conspiracy to murder,” and are being held at a south London police station.
The Met Police say “This is a large, complex and fast-moving investigation which continues to develop.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has announced “we are not pursuing any criminal or misconduct offences against officers” who discharged their weapons yesterday.
The IPCC statement offers new detail about the confrontation between the suspects and armed officers: “PCC investigators have viewed CCTV footage of the police shooting which was captured on a local authority camera positioned nearby. Three firearms officers, in an armed response vehicle, are seen to arrive in John Wilson Street, Greenwich, at 2.33pm. Two officers fired shots and one officer discharged a Taser. Two men sustained gun shot injuries and received first aid from the firearms officers. The men remain under arrest in hospital.”
The Daily Mirror newspaper has obtained smartphone footage taken by a resident of a block of flats overlooking Artillery Row and showing the confrontation between the suspects and armed police. It lasts less than 10 seconds and shows the police having to open fire when they are charged by the two men.
Commissioner Derrick Campbell said: “We have viewed CCTV footage of the police shooting. At this stage we are not pursuing any criminal or misconduct offences. Officers have provided initial statements and we will be obtaining additional accounts.”
He added: “The IPCC is independently verifying information regarding the circumstances of this incident and we can promise the Woolwich community, and wider public, that our investigation will be thorough.”
1,200 additional officers have been deployed on the streets of London with extra patrols at key locations such as religious venues, transport hubs and busy areas in the aftermath of the killing.
The Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson have visited the area today to emphasize their message for London and the rest of the country to stay calm and united, and follow the example of courageous women in Woolwich who yesterday tried to care for the dying soldier and confronted his alleged killers.
Mayor Johnson met local community leaders and the senior Metropolitan Police officers said their neighbourhood teams “are engaging face-to-face with the public and listening to any concerns they have; liaison with local organisations and businesses.”
Late this afternoon the Ministry of Defence named the soldier who died as Drummer Lee Rigby of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who is from Manchester and leaves a two year old son.
Drummer Rigby has been described as “an extremely popular and witty soldier, larger than life personality within the Corps of Drums and was well known, liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers.” His commanding officer, Lt Col Jim Taylor, and the Secretary of State for Defence, Phillip Hammond, paid tribute to him and offered their profound condolences to his family.
More of his fellow soldiers remembered him with respect and affection in the statement released by the MOD. The 25 year old soldier joined the army in 2006, had stood guard duty outside Royal Palaces in London, taking part in the Trooping of the Colour, and served in Cyprus and Helmand province in Afghanistan.
In 2011 he took up a Recruiting post in London where he also assisted with duties at Regimental Headquarters in the Tower of London. Captain Alan Williamson said he was known as “Riggers” in his platoon and “was a cheeky and humorous man, always there with a joke to brighten the mood, he was an extremely popular member of the Fire Support Group (FSG).”
It is being reported that both of the alleged attackers were known to the Security Services. One of them has been named in social media and widely in the national media as Michael Adebolajo.
It is also reported he may have gone to the local Mulgrave Primary school only yards away from the scene of yesterday’s killing and shootings and may have been a student of Greenwich University.
The national media are under considerable legal pressure in dealing with the more stringent prosecutory policy of the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC for contempt of court, when at the same time the incident and background to the Woolwich killing and shootings as a terrorism event raise considerable public interest issues.
Most of the national media has decided to investigate and analyse the extent of Adebolajo’s activities and associations with extremist Islamist groups and preachers.
1) Anjem Choudary, the former leader of banned radical group al-Muhajiroun, said Adebolajo regularly attended meetings and demonstrations held by his group and successor organisations.
2) It is alleged he may have been under the influence of Omar Bakri Mohammed, a “hate preacher” banned from Britain, currently living in Lebanon.
3) There is speculation of an attempt to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab.
4) It is also reported that he clashed with police officers during a demonstration outside the Central Criminal Court in 2006.
The political question being asked of the Security Service MI5 is if he had been known to them for these issues over a period of about eight years, why had they not been able to prevent him being involved in the events in Woolwich?
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said there would be a full investigation by the Security and Intelligence Committee.
Speaking at a press conference outside 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said the killing “had sickened us all” and he praised the courage of people in Woolwich who were on the scene yesterday saying it was an example to the rest of the country.
Reports of eye witnesses indicated the attack started when the victim was knocked down by a car followed by the use of knives and a machete. There were reports that one of the attackers was in possession of a revolver.
One of the alleged killers told onlookers recording with their smartphones: “You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”
The government is anxious to reduce any risk of reprisals after members of the English Defence League staged a demonstration in Woolwich last night.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson insisted that London would not be divided:
2/2 – Clear & overwhelming message from the community meeting – London won’t be divided by this sickening atrocity.
— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) May 23, 2013
There were scuffles with police officers though Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Crime and Operations, Mark Rowley, tried to play down the level of trouble: “there were small incidents of minor disorder in Woolwich last night, but these were closely monitored and dealt with, where appropriate, by officers in the area. There were no arrests or reports of any injuries or damage.
“It is very disappointing that a few individuals see such a tragedy as an opportunity to cause trouble – we have extra resources deployed and will ensure we continue to work with communities and keep them safe in the coming days,” he added.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne, has said: “Today our shock at what happened on the streets of our city remains. The investigation into the shocking murder of a serving soldier yesterday is ongoing, and is of course a major investigation for us.”
AC Byrne was anxious to deal with concern about the amount of time it took for the police to respond to the incident: “One point I would like to address is around some of the speculation as to how long it took the Met to respond yesterday as this incident started to unfold. We first received a 999 call from the public at 14:20hrs stating a man was being attacked, further 999 calls stated that the attackers were in possession of a gun. We had officers at the scene within 9 minutes of receiving that first 999 call.”
He said: “Once that information about a gun or guns being present was known firearms officers were assigned at 14:24hrs. Firearms officers were there and dealing with the incident 10 minutes after they were assigned, 14 minutes after the first call to the Met. The senior Scotland Yard officer visited Woolwich this morning with London Mayor Boris Johnson to talk to the media.
Assistant Commissioner Byrne said: “The Borough Commander in Greenwich held a meeting with community leaders last night and we are grateful for the support from the public. There has been an increased police presence in Woolwich and the surrounding areas overnight and this will continue for as long as it is needed. We will continue to monitor the situation throughout.”
He referred to the presence of English Defence League demonstrators in Woolwich last night and described them as “small incidents of minor disorder.” He emphasized there had been no arrests and no further incidents reported.”
A number 53 London bus on the Deptford and New Cross route was caught up at the scene of yesterday’s attack, and the alleged attackers appeared to invite passengers and other passersby to record and photograph them with their weapons in hand.
But while armed police were on their way to the scene, it was unarmed civilians and members of the Woolwich community who confronted the assailants, went to the aid of the stricken victim, including Cub Scout leader, Ingrid Loyau-Kennett who was reported asking one of the alleged attackers: “Would you like to give me what you have in your hands?”
“He was covered with blood. I thought I had better talk to him before he starts attacking somebody else,” she said.
She appeared on the ITV ‘Daybreak’ programme to describe her experience.
Another of the alleged attackers was recorded on a smartphone saying: “I apologise that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same.” At least two other women tried to help the victim.
One sat on the tarmac beside his body and has been pictured offering comfort and prayers. The two alleged attackers were shot and wounded when armed police responders arrived on the scene and are being treated in separate London hospitals under tight security.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, arrived at Downing Street this morning for another security meeting and praised the people of Woolwich for their “astonishing natural courage in dealing with an appalling event and who stood up to those killers.”
These scenes at various times were witnessed by a wide range of local people including the Bishop of Woolwich, Rt. Rev. Michael Ipgrave, who went on national television afterwards to call for calm and understanding.
The Head Teacher of nearby Mulgrave Primary school, David Dixon, described how he locked down the school immediately after hearing gunshots and seeing a body lying in the road.
The unfolding events were recorded and reported on social media including images and messages left on the Woolwich community Facebook page.
One of the site’s authors Danny Mercer wrote a rallying message for his community over a picture of the iconic Woolwich foot tunnel running from Greenwich to the north bank of the Thames and said: “We’ve had the riots and we bounced back. And now a terrorist attack killing a Woolwich based soldier but again we will bounce back.”
While the Metropolitan Police, Security Service MI5 and Independent Police Complaints Commission carry out the most intense anti-terrorist inquiry since 2005, security was substantially increased at military barracks and buildings throughout London and including East London Lines boroughs.
People living in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and bordering areas of Lewisham have been living with the sounds of helicopters and emergency vehicle sirens.
Many flowers and messages of condolence are being left at the entrance to the Royal Artillery Woolwich barracks.
Media and politicians are beginning to appreciate acts of extraordinary humanity and courage shown yesterday afternoon when without concern for themselves ordinary people tried to help the victim and challenge his alleged attackers.
Local Labour MP Nick Rainsford, who has represented Greenwich & Woolwich since 1997, said his community was in deep shock, but he said: “We saw yesterday in a very curious way the very best of human nature as well as the very worst.”
He praised the courage of local Woolwich people who tried to help and reason with the suspects and displayed: “extraordinary courage and humanity.”
A second emergency government and intelligence security committee known as COBRA, has met for the second time to evaluate the incident, but this time chaired by the Prime Minister David Cameron who flew back from Paris yesterday evening.
Home Sec has chaired first COBR meeting following #Woolwich incident. Attendees included Met Police, Mayor, Defence & Intel Services
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) May 22, 2013
Throughout the morning uniformed police officers were conducting a fingertip examination of the crime scene.
Below, the junction on the A205 South Circular being forensically searched and examined by teams of police officers. The attack on the soldier and then the confrontation between his alleged killers and armed police, leading to two men being shot and wounded, happened in and around the A205 John Wilson Street, generally known as the South Circular, and neighbouring Artillery Place and Wellington Street.
The Met Police said: “We urge anyone who filmed or took photos as events unfolded in John Wilson Street to send them to police via firstname.lastname@example.org – please include your name and contact details, which will be treated in strictest confidence. Alternatively contact the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789 321.”