One person is dead and two more are seriously injured after multiple people were stabbed in the British city Birmingham.
West Midlands Police first responded to reports of a stabbing at about 12:30am Sunday, local time. Shortly afterwards, “a number of other stabbings” were reported in the area.
A total of 14 ambulances were called to the scene.
The police declared a major incident in the city centre, and they have cordoned off and closed some roads, warning residents to expect a greater police presence than usual.
“We can now confirm that we’ve launched a murder investigation following the events in Birmingham city centre overnight,” they said in a statement.
“A man has tragically died. Another man and a woman have suffered serious injuries and five others have also been injured, although their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
“We believe the incidents, which took place between 12:30am and 2:20am, are linked and we’re doing all we can to find whoever was responsible.
“We’re urging anyone who witnessed anything or anyone who has any CCTV or mobile phone footage to get in contact as soon as possible, as the information you have may be crucial to our investigation.”
Police said they were aware of “comments that gunshots were fired” but no actual reports of gunfire had been made to them.
A witness who works in the area, Cara, told BBC Radio 5 the violence started around The Arcadian, a popular night life spot with a number of clubs.
“As the night sort of wore on and the alcohol was going in, tensions were starting to rise,” Cara said.
“There was more and more fights happening, to the point where security was now all on board. Not just the club security. Quite a lot of people was being kicked out at this point.
“It had just turned into a bad vibe.”
The radio station’s host, Chris Warburton, asked whether the fights were between individuals or groups of people.
“At first it would start off as individuals, just outside one of the main clubs I promote at. And then as soon as one person had got involved, everybody started to get involved. I’m assuming it was their friends,” she replied.
“They all started to jump in and try and fight as well. It started off as one or two people, and then turned into five or six.”
She said that while most fights in the area tend to be quite random and sparked by “petty things” like women or drinks, this incident was different.
“This seemed more of – it was one group of boys against another group of boys, and it seemed quite targeted,” Cara said.
“After working in clubs for many years, I’ve become a good judge of character, and these people, their body language after leaving the club was like they were prepared for something. They were not just having an argument and then fighting, it was straight into fists being thrown. There was not much talking going on.
“They would just keep going at it. There was at least 10 security trying to pull these boys apart. Drinks were being dropped, rings were falling off so jewellery was going everywhere, clothes were being torn.
“One of the males actually ended up with his hair being pulled out, and being left with a bald patch.”
Warburton asked what sort of language the men were using.
“It was just slurs being thrown about. Racial slurs. Most of it was racial slurs, which – with one of the clubs I work at, it is mainly populated by black culture, Asian culture. So for racial slurs to be thrown around, it was quite rare,” she said.
“Like I said, it wasn’t much talking, but when it was, it was just abuse. Which, you know, that doesn’t happen often. It’s more of just a petty argument, like a child.
“It was many races everywhere. And it wasn’t just, you know, black people against Asian people, or white people against everybody else, it was many groups of friends which were all different cultures just going at each other.
“So it wasn’t like it was race-on-race. It was group-on-group.”
“It want to get a picture of how this evolved over time. Because obviously it got much more serious as the evening went on,” said Warburton.
“So, after I finished my shift, I was speaking to one of the security guards – he’s actually quite a close friend of mine – and he actually said to me, ‘Go home tonight. It’s dangerous,’” she told him.
The security guard had removed someone from one of the clubs because of a “blade” being found on him.
“So I’d left the one club I was at and was sort of just staggering around each one. And I was with my boyfriend, and we were walking towards Arcadian car park,” Cara continued.
Her feet hurt, so she sat down while her boyfriend went to fetch her flat shoes from the car. At that point, she heard a bang, which she assumed was him slamming the car door.
“What I found out later was it was one of many gunshots that were done that night,” she said.
As we mentioned earlier, the police say they have received no report of gunshots being fired. Warburton asked Cara why she thought the sound was a gunshot.
“After leaving the car park, another gunshot went off, and it was the exact same noise,” she explained.
“Now, we actually knew this was a gunshot, due to the fact that after it happened, I got out of the car, walked over and there was a young male laying on the floor, and there was quite a lot of havoc going on.
“After speaking to one of the people that was actually witness to that gunshot, he actually told me that’s that what it was. And that’s what I’d been hearing for the last five, ten minutes.”
She said police had done a fabulous job arriving at the scene quickly.
“It was all within about a ten minute period where all of this was happening, so I have to applaud the efforts that were made,” she said.
“Even though I work in a club and I see fights happening, I never thought I’d see what I saw tonight. I’ve never really witnessed anything like it.”
Britain’s Foreign Minister Dominic Raab reacted to the incident on Sky News UK. He was unable to shed any more light on it.
“We’re thinking very much of the victims and their families. There’s obviously an ongoing police investigation. I can’t say too much more at this stage,” Mr Raab said.
“But people should be very vigilant if they’re in that area.”
Meanwhile Ian Ward, the head of Birmingham City Council, called for members of the public to cooperate with police.
“We are extremely concerned about last night’s major incident in the city centre and of course our thoughts, first and foremost, are with anyone affected,” he said.
“We will be working with the police to establish what happened.
“There is no room in Birmingham for this level of violence, and we ask that everyone cooperate with the police and follow their guidance.”