THREE DIE AS TERROR AND TURMOIL TAKE OVER IN WEST GEORGE STREET
Death in the afternoon – three dead, one policeman ‘critical’ in asylum-seeker related horror. Picture by BBC Scotland
By Bill Heaney and BBC Scotland reporters
Three people are dead and a policeman and six others are in hospital after a bloodbath involving knives and guns in Glasgow city centre.
Reporter Graham Stewart from BBC Scotland says the incident happened at the Park Inn Hotel on West George Street, which during the pandemic has been housing asylum seekers.
The BBC spoke to eye-witnesses who were in the hotel at the time and they understand that three people were stabbed to death in the stairwell.
Police Scotland are saying that armed and unarmed police officers swarmed into the busy area where the incident took place and a male suspect was shot dead by an armed officer.
They are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident, which has shocked the UK.
The communications section confirmed that a police officer was injured while dealing with the incident, but it has not yet been confirmed if this was terrorist-related or just similar to the stabbings in a public park in Reading at the weekend.
Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “We still don’t know exactly what has happened – “It’s clear something devastating and tragic has taken place in our city today.
“My heart is with the victims and their loved ones. Glasgow must pull together and support each other to recover from this.”
The latest television pictures show a street full of police officers, police vehicles, fire tenders and ambulances.
The police were armed to the teeth with rifles, side arms and Tasers, although some of them – believed to have arrived on the scene almost immediately – had no weapons at all with which to defend themselves.
Police said the “hard decision” to shoot suspects is “not taken lightly”.
Counter-terrorism expert David Low, speaking on BBC radio, told the interviewer: “The decision will have been made looking at how dangerous he is to the public as well as to the police.
“If he’s already killed three people, and reports are it was in the stairwell of a hotel, it is pretty obvious that this individual is being pretty serious about how they are using their violence.
“I am surmising now, but warnings would have been given and if the suspect has not adhered to the warnings then, if that armed officer believes they are a danger to the public or that armed officer himself, they will take their life.
“It is a hard decision to make and it is not taken lightly, but you’ve got to look at the greater safety of the public.”
Eyewitness Stuart Gibson, who lives on West George Street near the Park Inn Hotel where the incident happened, told reporters he saw people being evacuated from the hotel after police set up a barricade around the area.
“Armed police rushed into the hotel, it made it look as if they were looking for something,” he said. “There was certainly one person who was carried out by police.”
Mr Gibson, who observed the scene from a window, said police had not evacuated any other buildings, but were not allowing anyone on to the street.
“Since lockdown it looks like it has changed and been used more as a hostel; there have been groups of people sitting outside in the last couple of months,” Mr Gibson added.
There was a group of people, looking traumatised, sitting on the stairway at the front of the hotel an hour ago talking animatedly to police officers, who were wearing high viz yellow vests.
Counter terrorism expert and former police officer David Low added later: “Someone has had a lethal weapon, a knife is a lethal weapon, so we have seen the armed response from Police Scotland and that’s what would be expected to deal with the incident – and individual – and make it safe for everyone.
“It looks like the suspect has been shot dead, so obviously there won’t be any interviews, so they will look for any forensic evidence at the scene that is important, identify who this individual is, conduct searches of premises they had under their control and the key thing is to find a motive for this.
“There could be a number of motives for this. Obviously some people might think it is a terrorist incident because we’ve had a recent tragic event in Reading, but it might not be. It could be a domestic dispute, someone who is having mental health problems.
“It is about being open-minded to find out why this individual carried out this attack.”
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson said: “The individual who was shot by armed police has died. Six other people are in hospital for treatment to their injuries including a police officer, who is in a critical but stable condition.”
He added: “I would like to reassure the public that at this time we are not looking for anyone else in relation to this incident.
A man who gave his name as John was in the Park Inn Hotel on West George Street when the incident happened – “I was in my room and I heard loud screams from downstairs,” he said.
“I heard a woman and a man screaming for help, but I could not see from my window on the third floor but a lot of people were staring towards the hotel.
“I got worried and went to check what was going on. When I opened the lift it was all blood.
“I went down the stairs and the reception was full of blood.”
Cameron White was in the area at the time also spoke to BBC Scotland: “We were going for a walk and we saw a whole load of police cars and ambulances, a whole load of commotion and we saw a whole load of armed policemen running up to the main entrance to the hotel.
“We didn’t see any shots fired or anyone laying on the ground, but a serious incident happening and a whole load of police running around sealing off the area and telling everyone to get back.”
Witness Jamie O’Neil, who owns a phone shop in Glasgow city centre, said: “We heard lots of sirens and saw more and more police officers arriving. They were walking about with machine guns.
“There seemed to be a lot of confusion about what had happened. One man told me he saw a man stab people and then he was shot by the police.
“In the last few weeks we’ve seen the police mobilised to different areas, whether it was the protests in George Square or last night in Kelvingrove Park.
“But this was on another level. We quickly realised it was something much more serious.
“In Glasgow we tend to run towards things rather than run away from them, but the police quickly took control of the area.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, right, tweeted: “My thoughts are with all those who have been injured in the incident in Glasgow today. My sincere thanks go to our emergency services.
“The injury of a @policescotland officer is a reminder of the great bravery our police officers show every day as they work to keep us safe.