London: The city of Nottingham in central England is in mourning on Thursday as it prepares for a second vigil in memory of three people killed in a brutal stabbing spree, including British Indian teenage hockey star Grace O’Malley Kumar.
The 19-year-old has since been formally identified by Nottinghamshire Police as one of the victims of the attack in the early hours of Tuesday.
She was killed soon after the fatal stabbing of her friend Barnaby Webber, also 19, and the third victim, 65-year-old Ian Coates, was stabbed to death soon after on a nearby street of the Nottingham city centre.
A 31-year-old male suspect, believed to be of West African origin, remains in police custody as counter-terror officials help with the murder investigation.
“Right now, this is a city in mourning… the whole city is shocked and devastated by this attack, which has killed three people and injured three – one of whom is in critical condition,” Nadia Whittome, British Indian MP from Nottingham, told reporters.
“Nothing like this has happened in Nottingham, certainly not in my lifetime. But our community does have a proud history of coming together and looking after one another in times like this and I know that this time will be no different,” she said.
On Wednesday, the University of Nottingham held a campus vigil in memory of their two students killed in the attack, which involved moving and tearful tributes from family, friends and fellow students.
“The love that we have out here, I just wish we had it everywhere. So, look after each other,” said Dr Sanjoy Kumar, fighting back his tears for his daughter.
“Grace was not just a sister to James but his best friend. He is completely heartbroken. As parents, words cannot explain our complete and utter devastation. She will be so dearly missed,” he said, joined by his Irish wife Sinead and son James.
There was also some laughter amid the tearful tributes, as Dr Kumar – a respected general practitioner (GP) from London – spoke of trying to persuade his daughter to come back home to visit.
“Grace was also like Barnaby, she loved coming up to Nottingham – in fact we couldn’t get her down [to London],” he said.
Grace, a first-year medical student, has been described as a talented hockey and cricket player who also played for the university.
Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, said: “Grace was a medical student, thriving in her first year of study and inspired to a career in medicine by work placements in a GP [general practitioner] surgery and her volunteering for the nationwide vaccination programme during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She was a talented sportswoman, playing international hockey for both the U16 and U18 England Hockey Team and Essex U15 Women’s Cricket. She was held in the highest regard by her tutors and team mates alike.”
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman updated Parliament on the “horrific events” on Wednesday to confirm that it is not being treated as a terrorist attack.
“They are currently keeping an open mind as to the motives behind these attacks but I can confirm Nottinghamshire Police are being assisted in their inquiries by counter terror police. Though, this does not mean that it is currently being treated as a terrorist attack,” said Braverman.