Russell Square attack: London student Zakaria Bulhan charged with murder after stabbing that left American woman dead

The 19-year-old Norwegian citizen is of Somali descent and moved to the UK at the age of five

Lizzie Dearden
Friday 05 August 2016 22:00 BST
Police say they are still investigating the motives for Wednesday night’s stabbing in Russell Square
Police say they are still investigating the motives for Wednesday night’s stabbing in Russell Square

Zakaria Bulhan, the man suspected of killing an American woman in a stabbing rampage in central London, has been charged with murder.

The 19-year-old Norwegian citizen is of Somali descent and moved to the UK at the age of five, officials said.

He is due to appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday.

Police raided his home in Tooting, south London, on Thursday after he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Neighbours speaking to the Daily Mail said Bulhan’s family were Muslim, describing his mother as a “kind and friendly” woman who lived with her two sons.

Russell Square attack: Woman killed in London was American citizen

Bulhan attended Graveney School in Tooting and recently completed his first year studying for a BTEC in IT at South Thames College in Morden.

Former classmates told the Evening Standard he had been a “teacher’s pet” who was occasionally bullied.

A profile on a book rating website in Bulhan’s name shows an interest in Islamic theology, listing a biography of the Prophet Mohamed and a book of Quran verses and hadiths as recent reads.

Bulhan remains in custody as police continued to investigate the motives for Wednesday night’s stabbing in Russell Square, which left a 64-year-old woman dead and five other victims.

Witnesses described their horror as a knife-wielding man launched his attack on passers-by in Russell Square, stabbing anyone he could reach.

Darlene Horton succumbed to her injuries at the scene, with witnesses describing how a family of Spanish tourists tried to comfort her as she died.

Ms Horton, who was visiting the city with her husband Richard Wagner while he taught summer classes, was due to fly home the day after the attack.

Floria State University president John Thrasher said: “There are no words to express our heartache over this terrible tragedy.

”We are shocked that such senseless violence has touched our own FSU family and we will do all we can to assist Professor Wagner and his loved ones, as well as his friends and colleagues in the psychology department, as they mourn.“

Five other people were injured – an American man, Australian man and woman, Israeli woman and British man.

Four of the wounded victims were discharged from hospital on Thursday, while the British man remained in a serious but stable condition with a stab wound to his stomach.

Scotland Yard said no evidence has been found of radicalisation or anything to suggest the attack was ”in any way motivated by terrorism“.

Stabbing victim Darlene Horton succumbed to her injuries at the scene (Metropolitan Police)

Mark Rowley, the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said armed officers arrived within six minutes of being alerted to the attack at around 10.30pm.

They used a Taser to restrain the suspect as he continued trying to stab other victims in the street, in what was praised as the “minimum necessary force”.

“Whilst the investigation is not yet complete – all of the work that we have done so far, increasingly points to this tragic incident as having been triggered by mental health issues,” Mr Rowley said.

“At this time we believe this was a spontaneous attack and the victims were selected at random.”

Describing the suspect as a Norwegian national of Somali origin, the counter-terrorism chief said his background was not believed to be “relevant to the motivation for his actions”.

“So far we have found no evidence of radicalisation or anything that would suggest the man in our custody was motivated by terrorism,” he added.

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