Manchester bombing: Birmingham vigil interrupted by man with axe

Police, including armed response officers, cleared Victoria Square

Tom Batchelor@_tombatchelor
Tuesday 23 May 2017 19:45
Manchester bombing: Birmingham vigil interrupted by man with axe

A vigil being held in Birmingham for the victims of the Manchester terror attack has been interrupted by a man brandishing an axe.

West Midlands Police (WMP) confirmed a 39-year-old man had been detained during a candle-lit service in memory of the 22 killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack.

A spokeswoman for the force added that the area was now secure.

The man shouted out as he was handcuffed and led away by officers, just a short distance from where 1,000 people had gathered in the city's main Victoria Square.

As he was taken away in a riot van in Edmund Street, which runs behind Birmingham's council building, a police sergeant could be seen carrying away what appeared to be a bat and an axe.

Speakers who had been paying tribute to the Manchester victims were interrupted by the man's loud protests.

Police, including armed response officers, then cleared the square a short time later.

In a statement, WMP said: “A man has been arrested following a disturbance near a vigil in Birmingham city centre this evening.

“The 39-year-old Birmingham man – who is known to police and is thought to have a history of mental ill-health - was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.

“The event was being held in support of the victims of yesterday’s Manchester terror attack.”

Superintendent Andy Parsons, responsible for policing in the west of Birmingham, said: “Officers spotted the man acting suspiciously and spoke to him. At this point they have arrested him.

“The man was carrying a bag, and as a precaution, Victoria Square where the vigil was being held was cleared for around 15 minutes.

“A small axe was recovered along with a large stick.

“We will be interviewing the man to understand his intentions after mental health experts have assessed his condition.

“I’d like to thank people for the calm and collected way in which they responded to the incident. The professionalism of our officers who responded to the incident is also commendable and indicative of British policing.”

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