In a horrific assault, Labour MP Jo Cox died after being shot and stabbed multiple times after a constituency meeting, in Northern England on Thursday afternoon. A 52-year-old man, a former psychiatric patient named locally as Tommy Mair, was arrested in the area, police confirmed.
Police said that Cox, 41, the MP for Batley and Spen, had suffered serious injuries and was pronounced dead at 1.48pm on Thursday by a doctor with paramedics at the scene.
The alleged killer was arrested about a mile from the scene of murder, which took place outside the library in Birstall, near Leeds, West Yorkshire. No motive has been established yet.
The temporary chief constable of West Yorkshire police, Dee Collins, at a press conference, said that large-scale investigations were being carried out and witnesses were being spoken to. She added that weapons had been retrieved from the scene, including a firearm.
Witnesses believed the attacker had been waiting for the MP outside the library and that she had been ‘purposefully targeted’. Another witness said a man had tried to stop the assault. She said the attacker had first stabbed Cox and when the man intervened he had shot him. According to others, the suspect shouted ‘Britain first’, a possible reference to the far-right political party of that name, as he launched the attack.
According to witnesses, Mrs Cox’s killer used either an antique or a home-made gun which he calmly reloaded between shots. As she lay bleeding to death, he repeatedly kicked her before walking away, having stabbed the 77-year-old man.
Police carried out a raid on Mair’s semi-detached home on the Fieldhead council estate. Mr. Mair had a history of psychiatric problems. His brother said that he also had possible links at one time to a white supremacist group.
Neighbours said he had lived there for more than 30 years, and on his own for the past two decades since the deaths of his mother and grandmother. They did not think he had a job or drove a car and described how he would do gardening chores for local people.
Mair, who was born in Scotland, had spoken of his mental health problems in a local newspaper interview in 2010, telling of the benefits of volunteering in a local park. “I can honestly say it has done me more good than all the psychotherapy and medication in the world,” Mr Mair said at the time.
Mair was possibly a ‘dedicated supporter’ of the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi organisation in the United States. It seems Mr. Mair bought a manual from the alliance in 1999 that included instructions on how to build a pistol.
Senior politicians expressed their shock at the killing and sent their condolences.
Ms. Cox was involved in pro-European causes. The MP for Batley and Spen, in Yorkshire, since 2015, has previously spoken out against the ‘racism and fascism’ of Britain First, an anti-Islam Right-wing group.
She also worked with Oxfam, the anti-hunger charity; with Sarah Brown, wife of the former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, to reduce child and infant mortality; and with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to combat modern slavery. She was married with two children and lived part of the time on a boat on the Thames.
She chaired the all-party parliamentary group for Friends of Syria and was vocal in making the case for military action in the country last autumn, on humanitarian grounds. Her husband is a former Labour adviser who stepped down as a senior executive of the charity Save the Children last year.
Following Mrs. Cox’s death, which was announced by West Yorkshire Police at 5pm, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said: “In the coming days, there will be questions to answer about how and why she died. But for now, all our thoughts are with Jo’s husband Brendan and their two young children. They will grow up without their mum, but can be immensely proud of what she did, what she achieved and what she stood for.”
Cox’s husband, Brendan, said after her death was announced: “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.”
“Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now – one, that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
“Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”
Campaigning for the EU referendum by Britain Stronger in Europe and Vote Leave was suspended for 24 hours, and David Cameron, the Prime Minister, cancelled a visit to Gibraltar. Police will investigate whether Mrs Cox, was targeted because of her support for Remain.
Mrs Cox was the first MP to be murdered since the death of Ian Gow, who was assassinated by the IRA in a car bomb outside his home in 1990. She is the first female MP to be murdered and is also believed to be the first killed by a constituent in modern times.
British MPs laid flowers and attended vigils across the country to pay tribute to her.