Woman dead, several injured after mass stabbing in London

Posted at 9:34 PM, Aug 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-03 23:34:57-04

LONDON – One woman was killed and five other people were injured in a knife attack in central London’s Russell Square, London Metropolitan Police said.

Authorities said a suspect, a 19-year-old man, is in police custody at a hospital.

The woman killed is in her 60s, authorities said.

Mental health is a “major factor” in the investigation but terrorism remains a line of inquiry.

“As a precautionary measure tomorrow, Londoners will wake up and in the morning they will notice increased police presence on the streets, including armed officers,” Mark Rowley, the Scotland Yard assistant commissioner, told reporters. “This is there to provide reassurance and safety. We ask the public to remain calm, vigilant and alert.”

Officials briefed on the investigation told CNN earlier that based on early evidence, investigators believe the incident was a terror attack.

“The fact that they’re evening mentioning terrorism leads me to believe that some of the witnesses and some of the victims may have said that this guy may have made some statements while he was carrying out the attack,” former FBI agent Bobby Chacon said.

“The normal posture is to calm the public and say we don’t have any information that it’s terrorism yet.”

Counterterrorism police are supporting the investigation, but not leading it, authorities said later.

Police were called in at 10:33 p.m. Wednesday local time after reports of a man “seen in possession of a knife injuring people,” authorities said in a news release.

A stun gun was used on the suspect, and he was arrested less than 10 minutes later, authorities said.

The officials also said one injured victim appears to be American.

The incident comes just hours after authorities announced London would increase its presence of armed police after recent terror attacks in Europe.

Located in the Bloomsbury district of west central London, Russell Square is close to the main buildings of the University of London and the British Museum.

The area is popular with tourists because of its proximity to museums and central London. It also boasts many upscale hotels and homes.

Though it’s located in central London — which is usually busy on summer nights — Russell Square isn’t particularly bustling when compared to other nearby neighborhoods, which are home to more restaurants and bars.

In the terror attacks of July 7, 2005, the underground subway line running close to Russell Square was hit by the most devastating of the four bombs.

CNN’s Carol Jordan, Phil Black, Joseph Netto, Rachel Clarke, Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report

See the full police statement below:

Police were called at 22:33 hours on Wednesday, 3 August to reports of a man seen in possession of a knife injuring people at Russell Square, WC1.

Officers attended the scene along with the London Ambulance Service.

Up to six people were found injured at the location.

A female (no further details) was treated at the scene but was pronounced dead a short time later.

We await an update on the condition of the other persons injured and details of any other injuries.

A man was arrested at 22:39 hours and a Taser was discharged by one of the arresting officers.

Additional police units have been deployed to the area to provide reassurance.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Terrorism is one possibility being explored at this stage.