Policeman who wrestled Manchester knife attacker to ground says instinct took over

Search teams spent much of New Year’s Day at a property on Schoolside Close, from which several people were later seen leaving with jackets covering their faces.Neighbours said the family had moved to Manchester from the Netherlands around 10 to 15 years ago, having originally come from Somalia.  One neighbour said the suspect’s mother, who has four sons and one daughter, is a former nurse and that one brother worked at Manchester airport. It is understood that another son returned to live in Somalia in recent years.The family were reported to attend nearby Khizra mosque, though officials at the mosque said they were unable to confirm this.Police said on Wednesday that mental health specialists will have up to six months to carry out their assessment of the suspect.Sir Peter Fahy, the former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, said the potential role played by mental health issues  would not stop the incident being treated as a terror attack and the force insisted a counter-terrorism investigation “remains ongoing”.GMP said: “The investigation has moved at a very fast pace and detectives are increasingly confident that the man acted alone in the final stages of the attack. The investigation will continue and examine if anybody may have encouraged or assisted the man to commit the attack.” “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.”Officers using a Taser stun gun and “captor gel”, an irritant designed to incapacitate suspects, managed to pin the attacker, who was thought to be armed with two knives, to the ground.The two civilian victims, a man and a woman in their fifties, suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries and are said to be making good progress in hospital.The quick thinking of the BTP officers was commended by the force’s chief constable, Paul Crowther, who said it had undoubtedly saved dozens of other passengers from serious harm.He said: “This horrific incident underlines the bravery of our officers, who selflessly ran towards danger to help keep the public safe.“Whilst this incident is an example of policing at its finest it also serves as a dark reminder of policing at its most dangerous.”The triple stabbing took place at a tram station that forms part of the complex that includes the Manchester Arena,where 22 people were killed and dozens – half of them children – severely injured in 2017 when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb as they left a concert by pop star Ariana Grande. A policeman injured as he wrestled a knife-wielding terror suspect to the ground at a Manchester station has described how “instinct took over” when he raced towards danger, saving dozens more passengers from attack.Lee Valentine was one of four officers from the British Transport Police (BTP) hailed as heroes for tackling the armed man seconds after a couple were stabbed at Manchester Victoria station on New Year’s Eve.The sergeant, who is in his thirties, suffered a puncture wound to the shoulder as he helped wrestle the suspect to the ground.A 25-year-old man is now being held under the Mental Health Act in connection with the incident as police continue a counter-terrorism investigation.Police say they believe the suspect acted alone, but are also examining whether he received any help in the run up to the attack and how he came to be radicalised.Speaking for the first time, Mr Valentine, who was was discharged from hospital on New Year’s Day after receiving treatment to his wounds, said the recognition he had received for his actions was “overwhelming”. He said: “My team and I are grateful to everyone who sent in messages of support – it really does mean the world to us. The family of the suspect also broke their silence on Wednesday, saying they were “acutely aware” the public would have questions about what happened.During what witnesses described as a  “frenzied” rampage on the platform of the station, the suspect allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is the greatest). He was also said to have screamed “Long live the Caliphate”, in possible reference to the Islamic State terror group.The man was initially arrested on suspicion of attempted murder before being transferred to a secure psychiatric unit, following an assessment by a specialist mental health team.It is believed the suspect is originally from Somalia and lived with his family at an address in Cheetham Hill, around a mile north of station in Manchester city centre.In a statement released through lawyers, his relatives 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.”We are acutely aware that many, including within the media, may well have many questions to ask us. However, we have been informed by GMP that there is an active ongoing, terrorist investigation and as such we are limited in what we can say at this stage.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

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