British lawmaker and a member of Parliament for Southend West, David Amess, was stabbed to death in an Essex church on Friday by an assailant who attacked him while he was meeting voters, in what police said was a ‘terrorist attack’.
Amess had been a member of Parliament for Southend West, which includes Leigh-on-Sea, since 1997, and had been a lawmaker since 1983, making him one of the longest-serving politicians in the House of Commons.
A report in AP said that he was a social conservative on the right of his party, who was well-liked, with a reputation for working hard for his constituents and campaigning ceaselessly to have Southend declared a city. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 for his service, becoming Sir David. Amess is survived by his wife and five children.
Flags at Parliament were lowered to half-staff amid a profusion of questions about lawmakers’ security after Amess’ death.
Here’s all you need to know about the attack on Amess and the ongoing investigation:
* Amess, 69, from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, was knifed repeatedly in the attack at about midday in the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London.
* Paramedics tried without success to save him and he succumbed to his injuries. Police arrested the suspect and recovered a knife.
* Police said they believed the suspect acted alone and were not seeking anyone else in connection with the killing, though investigations are on.
* The early investigation has revealed a “potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism,” the police had said.
* A Reuters report claimed that a 25-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder, and detectives said specialist counter-terrorism officers were leading the initial investigation.
* “As part of the investigation, officers are currently carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area and these are ongoing,” the police said.
* Politicians described the attack as an assault on democracy. “I think all our hearts are full of shock and sadness today at the loss of Sir David Amess MP, who was killed in his constituency surgery, in a church,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on the demise of Amess.
* The slaying came five years after another MP, Jo Cox, was murdered by a far-right extremist in her small-town constituency, and it renewed concern about the risks politicians run as they go about their work representing voters. British politicians generally are not given police protection when they meet with their constituents.
* Tributes poured in for Amess from across the political spectrum, as well as from the community he had served for decades. Residents paid tribute to him at a vigil at a church in Leigh-on-Sea. “He carried that great East London spirit of having no fear and being able to talk to people and the level they’re at,” the Rev. Jeffrey Woolnaugh said at the vigil, attended by about 80 people. “Not all politicians, I would say, are good at that.”
* Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson would not say whether the attack meant politicians needed tighter security, saying, “We must really leave the police to get on with their investigation.”
(With Inputs from Reuters and AP)