British parliamentarian David Amess, of the Conservative Party, died after being stabbed several times during a meeting with voters this Friday (15), according to several British press vehicles. A 25-year-old man considered a suspect was arrested by the police.
Earlier, police had confirmed that a man died in a knife attack, without naming the victim. The Guardian newspaper heard sources linked to the investigation who confirmed that the man killed in this attack is MP David Amess.
Amess, 69, has been a Member of Parliament since 1983 and has represented the Southend West district of Essex since 1997. Among the causes defended by the parliamentarian was the defense of animals. The attack took place at the Belfairs Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea.
Counterterrorism police are assisting the initial investigations, which are being coordinated by the Essex police.
In a statement, Essex police said a man was arrested after the crime. “We were called in by reports of a stabbing in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, just after 12:05 today,” the text reads.
“We arrived and found an injured man. He was attended to by emergency services but unfortunately died on the spot. A 25-year-old man was quickly arrested when police arrived on the scene as a suspected murderer, and a knife was recovered. He is currently in custody. We are not looking for anyone else related to this incident,” the statement continues.
In a statement released late at night, the Metropolitan Police said the murder was formally declared an act of terrorism. The initial investigation revealed “a potential motivation linked to Islamic extremism”. The arrested suspect is a Brit of Somali descent.
Several members of Parliament, from the Conservative and Labor parties, condemned the act of violence and expressed condolences in messages posted on social networks.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to David Amess. “All our hearts are completely in shock and saddened today by the loss of Sir David Amess, who died meeting his electorate in a church after nearly 40 years of continuous service to the people of Essex and the United Kingdom,” the prime minister said, adding that the parliamentarian was one of the most “kind, generous and kind” politicians, and that he had a history of passing laws to help vulnerable people. He highlighted the laws passed for endometriosis sufferers, to end animal cruelty and for people suffering from fuel poverty.
Carrie Johnson, the prime minister’s wife, wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely devastating news about Sir David Amess. He was immensely kind and good. A great animal lover and a true gentleman. This is completely unfair. My thoughts are with his wife and your sons”.
Boris Johnson, who is also a member of the Conservative Party, suspended a cabinet meeting and returned to his official residence at 10 Downing Street shortly after news of Amess’ death.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter that this is “a tragic day for our democracy”. “A decent man and respected parliamentarian, killed in his own community while performing his public duty,” he lamented.
Amess is the second member of the British Parliament murdered in just over five years. In June 2016, Labor Party Jo Cox was killed after being shot and stabbed by an extremist, also while meeting with voters in West Yorkshire. The murderer, Thomas Mair, an unemployed gardener, was sentenced to life in prison for the crime.
Following news of Amess’s assassination, Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said the security of lawmakers will be reviewed. He said the immediate priority is to offer condolences to Amess’ friends and family.
Many British parliamentarians hold regular meetings open to the population to debate issues of interest to their communities.
“In the coming days, we will need to discuss and examine the security of parliamentarians and any measures to be taken, but for now, our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family, friends and colleagues,” Hoyle said in a statement, according to The newspaper The Guardian