A long-serving member of British Parliament has been stabbed to death during a meeting with voters at a church in eastern England.
David Amess, from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, was knifed repeatedly as he met with voters of his constituency in his district in Essex around midday Friday.
Paramedics tried without success to save him. Police arrested a 25-year-old man in connection with the attack and began investigating the case as a terrorist incident.
Police believe the suspect acted alone. They say they’ve uncovered a potential motive linked to Islamic extremism.
Amess was 69 years old and had been a lawmaker since 1983, making him one of the longest-serving members in the House of Commons.
“A 25-year-old man was quickly arrested after officers arrived at the scene on suspicion of murder and a knife was recovered.”
The UK’s Counter Terrorism Command will lead the investigation into the murder, police said later Friday.
“It will be for investigators to determine whether or not this is a terrorist incident. But as always, they will keep an open mind,” Ben-Julian Harrington, Chief Constable of Essex Police, told reporters.
The killing was another grim moment in Britain’s political history.
It marks the second murder of a sitting British lawmaker in five years, after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed in her constituency in 2016, and has reignited discussions about the safety of the UK’s elected officials.
The country’s political, religious and societal leaders, and its royal family, all condemned the attack and paid tribute to Amess.
Those who knew him described Amess as a dedicated local representative, deeply embedded within his community and disinterested in the careerism of national politics.
Boris Johnson was joined by all of his living predecessors in expressing shock, and lawmakers from every corner of the political spectrum spoke of their sadness, their concern, and their anger after another of their colleagues was killed while meeting with his constituents.
“We are shocked and saddened by the murder of Sir David Amess, who dedicated 40 years of his life to serving his community,” William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.”