A hero police sergeant who was stabbed as he helped foil a suspected New Year’s Eve terror attack said he had no idea what he was running towards after he heard people screaming.
Sergeant Lee Valentine was one of three people injured in the knife attack at Manchester Victoria station at about 9pm on Monday.
A 25-year-old man, who was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, is now detained ‘in a secure medical facility’ but police warned today it could be months before a decision is made on whether he’ll be charged.
British Transport Police (BTP) Chief Constable Paul Crowther today praised the bravery of Sgt Valentine and his colleagues and said they had averted a tragedy of a far greater scale.
A terror suspect is pinned down following a New Year’s Eve knife attack in Manchester
Armed police patrolled Manchester’s Piccadilly Station this morning following New Year’s Eve’s knife attack at the city’s Victoria station
A solicitor for the suspect’s family and a family friend attended the family home today
The family solicitor and family friend (pictured) at the house today declined to comment, but, in a statement released this afternoon, said their ‘thoughts and prayers’ were with victims
Sgt Valentine, who is recovering at home after suffering a stab wound to his shoulder, said: ‘The past 48 hours have been overwhelming. My team and I are grateful to everyone who sent in messages of support, it really does mean the world to us.
‘We had no idea what we were running towards when we heard the screams on New Year’s Eve.
‘When we saw the man wielding a knife, instinct took over and we were able to, in company with travel safe officers from Metrolink, successfully detain the male.’
Mr Crowther said Sgt Valentine was ‘very lucky’.
‘He’s got a nasty injury but he could have been much, much worse,’ he said. ‘He very much feels that it was a team effort and everybody was in this together.
‘He got injured in the way he did but I think it’s a mark of the man that he constantly wants to emphasise the efforts of all of his team in doing this and I think they did a brilliant job together.’
Sgt Valentine had had been on patrol at the station, nearby the Manchester Arena, along with three colleagues when they confronted the attacker with Tasers and pepper spray.
Greater Manchester Police said today they are ‘increasingly confident’ that the knifeman ‘acted alone in the final stages of the attack’.
A video taken on the night of the attack shows the terror suspect being put into a police van
The attack happened not far from where a suicide bomber killed 22 at a concert last year
Counter-terror police are working to establish whether anyone else was involved
Suspect’s family’s prayers for victims
A man at the suspect’s home yesterday
The family said: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were seriously injured, their families and friends.
‘We are also eternally grateful for the swift response from the emergency services and the comfort given to those affected by fellow Mancunians and citizens.
‘The GMP (Greater Manchester Police) have informed us that our family member is currently detained under the Mental Health Act and is being treated by specialist medical staff.
‘We are acutely aware that many, including within the media, may well have many questions to ask us.
‘However, we have been informed by the GMP that there is an active, ongoing terrorist investigation and as such we are limited in what we can say at this stage.
‘It is important that the police investigations take its course and any reports and articles avoid any assumptions, speculations and generalisations.
‘We do not wish to make any further comment at this time.’
A couple, aged in their 50s, suffered multiple stab wounds, which are serious but not life-threatening, in the ‘random’ attack.
Police today said male victim ‘has made good progress. is likely to be released from hospital tomorrow.
The woman who was stabbed will remain in hospital for longer.
A GMP spokesman added: ‘In the coming months whilst the man is detained and being assessed under the Mental Health Act, the investigation will carry on as usual searching for evidence and investigators will be consulting with medical specialists and the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to any potential criminal prosecution.’
The suspect was heard to shout ‘Allah’ and ‘Long live the Caliphate’ during the incident at the station.
Mr Crowther said: ‘My personal view is they have averted a tragedy of a far greater scale than was the case, as significant and bad as it was.
‘What’s clear to me having talked to them is firstly, how humble they are, secondly how concerned they are about the wellbeing of the two individuals that were assaulted and I think they probably underestimate precisely what they did and how brave they were.’
In a statement, the family of the man detained under the Mental Health Act, who live in the Cheetham Hill area of the city, said: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were seriously injured, their families and friends.
‘We are also eternally grateful for the swift response from the emergency services and the comfort given to those affected by fellow Mancunians and citizens.’
Mr Crowther said the events of May 22 2017, when suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people after he detonated a device at the Manchester Arena, were still fresh in the minds of BTP officers when the incident happened.
He said: ‘What they did on the night was just in the finest traditions of policing, everything we’d expect of people, selflessness, disregard for their own personal safety, wanting to get in there and protect people. We’re all incredibly proud of them.’
A man and a woman were pictured receiving treatment after the incident on Monday evening
Police after the attack in Manchester’s Victoria Station on New Year’s Eve night
Mr Crowther said the officers were ‘upbeat’ and moved by the messages of support from members of the public.
He added: ‘The sergeant who was injured is clearly an experienced officer, the officers that he was working with are junior in service but they performed way beyond what we might expect someone of their service to do.
‘I think it’s real testament to their bravery and their disregard for their own personal safety to get stuck in and do what they did.’
Mr Crowther said support would be put in place for the officers as they returned to work.
Sam Clack, a BBC producer, was on a platform at Manchester Victoria waiting for a tram home when he witnessed the attack.
Police remain at a house in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester, where the suspect lived
Mr Clack, 38, said: ‘I just heard this most blood-curdling scream and looked down the platform.
‘What it looked like was a guy in his 60s with a woman of similar age and another guy all dressed in black.
‘It looked like they were having a fight but she was screaming in this blood-curdling way. I saw police in high-vis come towards him.
‘He came towards me. I looked down and saw he had a kitchen knife with a black handle with a good 12-inch blade. It was just fear, pure fear.’
Mr Clack said police used a Taser and pepper spray before ‘six or seven’ officers jumped on the man and held him down.
He said he heard the suspect saying: ‘As long as you keep bombing other countries this sort of s*** is going to keep happening.’
Mr Clack said it looked like both the man in his 60s and the woman with him had been stabbed, but both were conscious and were walked to a waiting ambulance.
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