A 20-year-old woman who was repeatedly stabbed in front of shoppers at a supermarket was the victim of a random and motiveless attack, detectives said today.
The victim, who has not been named, is in a critical condition in hospital with multiple stab wounds sustained at the Somerfield store in Anchor Springs, Littlehampton, West Sussex.
Inquiries by police so far have found no link between the woman and her attacker, who struck just before 4.30pm yesterday in front of other customers including children.
A 21-year-old man from Bognor Regis arrested shortly after the incident remained in custody in Worthing, a spokesman for Sussex Police said.
The store remained closed as police forensic investigations continued. Detectives have said that no weapon has been recovered yet.
The victim, who is from the Littlehampton area, was transferred overnight from Worthing Hospital to a hospital in Southampton for specialist treatment.
Detective Chief Inspector Jeff Riley, leading the investigation, said: "This appears to be a random and motiveless attack on an innocent young woman shopping in her local store.
"As far as we are aware, she was not known to her attacker.
"We have already spoken to a number of witnesses who were in or around the store yesterday afternoon, and we will be maintaining a high visibility presence at the store today in case there are others who have not yet spoken to us."
Witnesses described how the attacker repeatedly stabbed the young woman in front of other customers, leaving her with knife wounds across her body, including her neck and chest.
A security guard pounced on the suspect and other customers helped staunch the blood from her wounds before paramedics and police arrived.
Shocked customers and staff were seen consoling each other outside the store following the attack, which left a trail of blood visible in one of the aisles.
One witness, 54-year-old grandmother Bonnie Brown, described how the victim was left lying in a pool of blood in the aisle.
Mrs Brown, of Lyminster, near Littlehampton, told the Brighton Argus: "Everyone stopped what they were doing. I went round the corner and looked down the aisle.
"I saw a man stabbing this young lady. He was stabbing her again and again and again. There was blood everywhere.
"She was screaming and he was screaming at her. She fell to the ground and he got on top of her and carried on stabbing her in the neck and body.
"I just went up to her and grabbed her legs and pulled her away, leaving a trail of blood in the aisle. She needed to be pulled away. Everyone was screaming and crying.
"The security guard then jumped on the guy and kept hold of him. Me and some of the other shoppers kept pressure on her wounds. She had wounds all over her body, several on her neck.
"She was conscious but wasn't saying much. She was just lying in a pool of blood."
A spokesman for Worthing Hospital confirmed the victim received emergency surgery and was transferred overnight to a hospital in Southampton for specialist treatment.
Sussex Police appealed for witnesses to contact them on 0845 6070 999, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.Reuse content