Conservative MP Sir David Amess has died after being stabbed multiple times at a meeting with constituents.
The suspect, a 25-year-old man, has been arrested on suspicion of murder after the Tory veteran was stabbed several times during a constituency surgery in Essex.
The 69-year-old victim, who has been an MP since 1983, was fatally injured at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex midday on Friday.
The father-of-five is the second sitting MP to be killed in such circumstances in five years, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016 as she attended a constituency surgery.
Witnesses described the scene as “very distressing”.
A police spokesman said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion murder after a man was stabbed in Leigh-on-Sea.
“We were called to an address in Eastwood Road North shortly after 12.05pm today.
“We attended and found a man injured.
“He was treated by emergency services but, sadly, died at the scene.”
Police said a 25 year-old man has been arrested and a knife was recovered.
Detectives are not looking for any other suspects, and have asked witnesses with footage such as CCTV to come forward.
Witness Anthony Finch described seeing someone being taken out of the building and put into the back of a police car.
He told Sky News: “We arrived to do some work on the adjacent building… and at the point when I was crossing the road I saw an upset lady on the phone saying ‘you need to arrive quickly, he’s still in the building.
“There were loads of armed police, overhead there was an air ambulance as well as a police helicopter. Obviously wondered what the hell was going on, you don’t often see armed police around the local area.
“I saw the suspect get put into a police van, get taken away and then they cordoned the whole road and pushed us all down the road.
“What we then heard was that it was David Amess.”
He told LBC: “It’s very odd and it’s very distressing, that’s for sure.”
Councillor John Lamb, who is at the scene, told the PA news agency: “He’s a family man, he’s got four daughters and a son.
“He’s always trying to help people and especially refugees he’s tried to help.
“He’s a very amicable person and he does stick by his guns, he says what he believes and he sticks by it.”
Aerial footage showed multiple police officers outside the church and an air ambulance at the scene.
A large cordon extended down Eastwood Road, with members of the public gathering behind it, and multiple side streets closed off.
Tributes flooding in
Tributes have been flooding in from across the political spectrum.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon sent her thoughts to the political veteran’s family, tweeting: “This is awful beyond words. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with David’s family, friends and colleagues. May he rest in peace.
“Elected representatives from across the political spectrum will be united in sadness and shock today.
“In a democracy, politicians must be accessible and open to scrutiny, but no-one deserves to have their life taken while working for and representing their constituents”
This is awful beyond words. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with David’s family, friends and colleagues. May he rest in peace. https://t.co/qRO3Hgbk6q
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) October 15, 2021
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said: “The news about Sir David Amess is utterly devastating. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, staff team and all his loved ones at this dreadful time. May he rest in peace.
“Sir David was a thoroughly decent man, who was well liked across parties and the House of Commons. All of us are appalled at this barbaric attack, which was as senseless as it was cowardly. He was murdered while simply doing his job.
“In recent years, we have seen increasingly unacceptable levels of abuse and intimidation aimed at MPs, parliamentary staff and public figures. At its worst, this has resulted in violent attacks on multiple MPs and the murder of Jo Cox and now Sir David Amess.
“All of us are united in sadness today and in calling for an end to this abuse, intimidation and violence. It is a threat to our democracy – and it has to stop.”
Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Douglas Ross said: “I am shocked and devastated by the death of Sir David Amess in horrific circumstances.
“David was an outstanding MP, a great colleague and someone I was proud to call a friend.
“I’ve just returned from Qatar as part of a Parliamentary delegation that David led. It was a privilege to spend the last week with him.
“Not only was David professional and knowledgeable on the visits, but he was also great company to share time with. He regaled us all with his stories of almost four decades of public service. He was witty and engaging, and still had so much to offer.
“When I was first elected as an MP in 2017, David’s office was just two doors down from mine, and he did everything he could to make me feel welcome and supported in Westminster.
“David died doing the job he loved, helping his constituents and carrying out his public duty. A duty he has carried out for the last 38 years he has been a member of Parliament.
“I am at a complete loss for words to describe this tragedy – and I offer my prayers and heartfelt condolences to David’s wife Julia and his five children.
“He will be sorely missed by everyone who had the honour of knowing him.”
North Kincardine councillor Alison Evison has expressed her horror and sorrow at the deeply shocking news.
She said: “On behalf of Scottish Local Government I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to Sir David’s family, friends and colleagues at this truly, truly awful time for them.
“Whilst democracy and freedom of speech are the cornerstones of any civil society, terrible events like this cannot be tolerated in politics or in any other profession or walk of life.”
Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Andrew Bowie, said: “I am utterly devastated by the news of Sir David’s death.
“A kinder, gentler and more dedicated member of parliament, indeed, man, you could ever hope to meet.
“He always had time for a smile and an encouraging word for new MPs.
“Sir David was the epitome of an honourable member of parliament who cared passionately about the people and place he represented.
“To have been murdered doing the job he loved for the people he loved is sickening and my thoughts and prayers are with his whole family at this time.”
Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, David Duguid, said: “I was so shocked and saddened by the news of the senseless attack on Sir David.
“He was a great parliamentarian, well-liked and respected across the whole House.
“Sir David was a close friend of former Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, Sir Albert McQuarrie, and I’ll never forget how he offered his friendship and assistance to me as the new MP in his friend’s old seat.
“He will be sorely missed and my thoughts and sympathies are with his wife and family.”