LONDON (AP) – The sole suspect in the New Year’s Eve stabbings of three people at a train station in the English city of Manchester has been detained under Britain’s Mental Health Act, police said.
Police are treating the assault at Manchester’s Victoria Station late Monday as a terrorist attack. The train station is next to Manchester Arena, the site of a May 2017 suicide bombing that killed 22 people at a pop concert.
Greater Manchester Police said in a statement that the 25-year-old man arrested at the scene was assessed by medical staff before the decision was reached. He is accused of stabbing a British Transport police sergeant and two others while shouting Islamic extremist slogans.
The suspect has not been identified and police have not revealed their thinking on possible motives for the assault.
Officials said verifying that he acted alone and without a support network was a key objective of the investigation being led by counterterrorism police. Officers searched the suspect’s home in Manchester for evidence.
Members of the suspect’s family released a statement Wednesday saying they were “eternally grateful” for the swift response by emergency personnel and their “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims.
The statement said the man “is being treated by specialist medical staff.” The family said it will not comment on the specifics of the case because of the ongoing terrorist investigation.
“It is important that the police investigations take its course and any reports and articles avoid any assumptions, speculations and generalizations,” the family statement said.
The suspect was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, but with the latest development, it’s possible he may be found to be too impaired mentally to be held criminally responsible for the stabbings.
Two of the victims – a man and a woman – are still hospitalized with serious injuries but authorities say they are not life-threatening. The policeman who was stabbed in the shoulder when he came to their aid has been released from the hospital.
Britain’s official threat level has long been set at “severe,” indicating that intelligence analysts believe an attack is highly likely.