A knifeman who killed one person and injured seven more during a 90-minute attack in Birmingham confronted his first victim “about chatting to a girl”, according to a witness.
With no arrests made, a massive manhunt is underway for a lone suspect who went on the rampage in Birmingham city centre in the early hours of Sunday morning.
West Midlands Police declared a major incident after being called to reports of a stabbing just after midnight on Sunday, before more calls came in of further attacks.
One witness told The Sun : “The knifeman was totally deranged.
“He went up to a man and confronted him about chatting to a girl. The man had not done anything.
“Then he plunged a knife straight into his head. It was horrific. Blood was everywhere. It was mayhem, he was crazy, lashing out.
“He ran up the road and stabbed a woman. I thought it was a terrorist attack.”
The public have been urged not to approach the individual shown in the short clips shared on social media, but to call 999 immediately if he is spotted.
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham, of West Midlands Police, earlier said the incidents appeared to be “random”, with “no suggestion” the night’s events were linked to terrorism.
Police said a 23-year-old man had suffered fatal injuries, while a man and a woman, aged 19 and 32, suffered critical injuries.
Five other people, aged between 23 and 33, were also injured. They were treated in hospital and so far two have been discharged.
In the footage released by police, a man is shown wearing a dark-coloured baseball cap and zip-up hoodie with white drawstrings.
Also wearing dark-coloured trousers and shoes, he can be seen standing and walking on a street corner.
Police said they received the first call to Constitution Hill, to the north of the city centre, just after 12.30am, where a man had received a superficial injury.
This was followed by a further call 20 minutes later to nearby Livery Street, next to Snow Hill railway station. A 19-year-old man was critically injured and a woman was also injured.
An hour later at 1.50am, officers were called to Irving Street, to the south of the city centre, where a man died and another man suffered serious injuries.
Ten minutes later police were called to Hurst Street, in the heart of the city’s Gay Village quarter, where a 32-year-old woman was seriously injured and two men received lesser injuries.
Savvas Sfrantzis, who owns Mykonos bar and grill in Hurst Street, said he witnessed a woman being repeatedly stabbed, just across the street, after he was alerted by her screams.
He said: “I looked at him, facing him, and I can see he had a blade, small, not very big, and he was stabbing her in the neck.”
He described how the attacker was “so cold”, walking calmly away and “smirking”, while other bar staff bravely tried to follow him.
Asked how the knifeman was able to move through the city centre for more than two hours without being caught, Mr Graham described the attacker’s route through Birmingham as “relatively unusual”.
He later added: “We do not underestimate the impact that these incidents have had on the city of Birmingham today.
“We declared this a major incident at the earliest opportunity and we have drafted in scores of officers to help with the investigation and patrol the city to reassure residents and visitors that we are doing all we can to apprehend the person responsible.”
There remained a heavy police presence in the city centre on Sunday, with armed officers, patrols, riot vans and squad cars visible among the city’s visitors and weekend workers.
Police said extras officers had “flooded” the city centre, with four scenes being held and examined by forensic experts throughout the day.
In Edmund Street, drain covers were being lifted and at one stage a black-handled serrated kitchen knife was removed from the muck and debris and carefully bagged as evidence.
Mr Graham said it was “too early” to link the knife find to the attacks.