A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after three people were killed in Nottingham city centre, and a further three injured.
Two people were found dead in the street after one incident in Ilkeston Road and a third man was found dead in Magdala Road, Nottinghamshire police said. Another three people are in hospital after someone tried to run them over in a van in Milton Street, in what police believe was a connected incident.
Police said a 31-year-old had been arrested on suspicion of murder, and they believed all three incidents were linked.
Counter-terrorism police were understood to be assisting the investigation as detectives tried to understand what triggered the events. Regular police were still leading the investigation, several hours after the first attack, which took place shortly after 4am.
The three attacks have not been declared as a terrorist incident, with police urgently investigating the background of the man they have in custody as they try to determine a motive.
Police are trying to locate any phones or computers the suspect used, and examining their contents, in order to understand what happened.
The incidents led to a massive police response, with cordons erected around Nottingham city centre and closures on the city’s tram network.
Police believe the first two people they found at around 4 am were stabbed. A witness also told the BBC they saw two people being attacked with a knife. Post mortems will determine the cause of death.
The sequence of the attacks, hours after they took place across an area of over a mile and a half, was unclear.
At some point a van was obtained by the suspect – believed not to be owned by him – and used to drive into three people. They were being treated in hospital and a mile from that scene a white van was visible with dents to the bonnet and damage to its window.
Hours after the attacks armed police were involved in raids across the city as the police investigation chased down leads and hunted for evidence.
In a statement, Nottinghamshire police said: “Police were called to Ilkeston Road just after 4am where two people were found dead in the street. Officers were then called to another incident in Milton Street where a van had attempted to run over three people. They are currently being treated in hospital. A man has also been found dead in Magdala Road. Police have arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of murder and he remains in police custody.”
Petra Gyuricska and her husband, Miklos Toldi, said they were among the first to discover the body of a man on Magdala Road at 4.30am. They were heading to Gyuricska’s workplace when they saw the man lying on his side outside Magdala tennis club. She said: “I was just leaving for work … my husband gave me a lift, and then we were leaving and we saw the body lying … on the floor, and then we saw the blood and I just told my husband to stop.
“I tried to call 999 but I couldn’t get connection. Someone else came as well – [in] another car – and he called.”
Gyuricska said she believed the man had already died by the time they found him. She said: “We stayed … first a police car came, and then another two police cars came, and then an ambulance came. The police, they started CPR but it was too late. I mean, you could just see.”
The couple struggled to estimate the man’s age, but agreed he was probably older than 50 years, while Toldi said he was dressed in “working clothes” and Gyuricska described him as white.
A witness told the BBC he saw a young man and young woman being stabbed on Ilkeston Road, close to the junction with Bright Street in Nottingham, at about 4 am. The man, who did not give his name, told the corporation he had heard “awful, bloodcurdling screams” and looked out his window to see a “black guy dressed all in black with a hood and rucksack grappling with some people”.
He told the broadcaster: “She was screaming: ‘Help!’ I just wish I’d shouted something out of the window to unnerve the assailant. I saw him stab the lad first and then the woman. The lad collapsed in the middle of the road.
“The girl stumbled towards a house and didn’t move. The next minute she had disappeared down the side of a house, and that’s where they found her. I’d say it all happened within five or six minutes.”
The man said he called the police, who arrived within five minutes before paramedics tried to revive the pair for 40 minutes.