Birmingham stabbings witness speaks: “I’ve never really ever witnessed anything like it!”
A young woman who witnessed last night’s violence in Birmingham city centre, which resulted in multiple stabbings and the death of a man, has claimed the incident was the result of a mass brawl which spilled onto the streets.
According to the club worker, the “major incident” – in which several people were stabbed around Hurst Street and The Arcadian centre – revolved around tension between various different groups of young men inside a nightclub and involved racial slurs and physical attacks which resulted in serious injury.
West Midlands Police have confirmed they were called to reports of a stabbing at around after midnight early on Sunday, but have not confirmed any other details, including the claims made by Cara.
Cara, who works for different nightclubs around The Arcadian complex told reporters the stabbings were the result of gang violence last night. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Chris Warburton this morning, she claimed there was uncharacteristic racial tension simmering in the club she was working in, before a mass brawl spilled onto the streets.
“As the night sort of wore on and the alcohol was going in, tensions were starting to rise. There were more and more fights happening to the extent of… security was now all on board, not just Arcadian security.
“Everybody from Arcadian security, not just the club’s security was in full force. Quite a lot of people was being kicked out at this point. More and more police were sort of filing in, making sure they were at every exit and entrance, checking that social distancing was still a thing. It has just turned into a bad vibe.
“…they all started to jump in and try to fight as well. It started off as one or two people and then turned into five or six.”
“At first it would start off as just individuals, just outside one of the clubs I promote, and then as soon as one individual got involved, everybody started to get involved. I assume it was their friends, they all started to jump in and try to fight as well. It started off as one or two people and then turned into five or six.”
Asked if the fight was a random incident or deliberately targeted, Cara said:
“After being in Arcadian centre for more than two years, quite a lot of fights that happen are just because they’ve had too much to drink, it’s over petty things like girls or someone’s took someone’s drink.
“This seemed more like of… it was one group of boys against another group of boys and it seemed quite targeted.”
Elaborating on why she felt it was a targeted attack, she said:
“Due to the language they were using. After working in clubs for many years, I’ve become a good judge of character and these people, their body language from leaving the club was like they were prepared for something.
“They were not just having an argument and then fighting, it was straight into fists being thrown, there was not much talking going on. Usually once it’s over something petty, the security will pull them off each other and they’ll just move on to separate parts of the centre and just go home or go elsewhere, but this, they were just keep going at it and the security, there was at least ten security trying to pull these boys apart.
“Drinks were being dropped, like bottles that they’d obviously brought into the club, rings were falling off so jewellery was going everywhere, clothes were being torn, one of the males actually ended up with his hair being pulled being out and being left with a bald patch…”
“Drinks were being dropped, like bottles that they’d obviously brought into the club, rings were falling off so jewellery was going everywhere, clothes were being torn, one of the males actually ended up with his hair being pulled being out and being left with a bald patch which doesn’t seem like something, y’know, that would just happen if it was over a girl or something.”
“Usually if it is over a girl or a drink they’d specify that like ‘Why are you doing this?’ This time it was just slurs being thrown about, racial slurs, most of it was racial slurs which, with one of clubs I work at, it is mainly populated by Black culture, Asian culture, so for racial slurs to be thrown about, it was quite rare.
“Like I said, it wasn’t much talking but when it was it was just abuse which, y’know, that doesn’t happen often, it’s more of a… just like petty argument, like a child.”
She went on: “It was quite a multicultural night tonight, it’s the most I’ve seen in a while, usually it’s quite segregated with the clubs. Tonight, it was… there were many races everywhere, all the clubs were multicultural which is a shock in Arcadian due to the fact, y’know, it’s the music that’s being played and the type of drinks you can buy.
“Tonight it was many races everywhere; and it wasn’t just Black people against Asian people or white people against anybody else, it was many groups of friends which were all different cultures just going at each other, so it wasn’t like it was race on race but it was group on group.”
Cara also claimed she heard the sound of gunshots before seeing a young man sprawled out on the street, surrounded by panicked members of the public.
“After I’d finished my shift, I was speaking to one of the security guards and he’s a quite a close friend of mine and he always keeps and eye out, and he actually said to me ‘Go home tonight, it’s dangerous’.
“Now, Birmingham is Birmingham and on a night out, it’s always dangerous for me due to the fights to when he said that I took it with a pinch of salt. After speaking to him afterwards, it had actually turned out that he had to take one person out of the club due to a blade being found on him.
“After leaving the car park, another gunshot actually went off and it was exactly the same noise.”
“So, I left the one club I was at and was sort of just staggering around each and every one, and I was with my boyfriend and we were walking towards Arcadian car park and I sat on one of the seats due to my feet hurting, and he went to get my shoes from the car, my flat shoes, and while I was sat there I heard a bang. Now, I thought it was him shutting the car door because the car park is quite echoey but what I found out later, it was one of many gun shots that were done that night.
“After leaving the car park, another gunshot actually went off and it was exactly the same noise.
“Now we actually knew this was a gunshot due to the fact that after it happened, I got out of the car, walked over and there was a young male laying on the floor and there was a lot of, y’know, havoc going on and after speaking to one of the people who was actually witness to that gunshot, he actually told me that that’s what it was and that’s what I’d been hearing for the last five-ten minutes.”
Despite the speculative claim, West Midlands Police have stated they were only responding to multiple stabbings and there has been no official mention of gunshots.
'I've never witnessed anything like it'
Police have declared a major incident after a stabbing in Birmingham City Centre.
Cara works in the area and was at the scene.
— BBC Radio 5 Live (@bbc5live) September 6, 2020
Cara told the BBC’s 5 Live Breakfast show that hadn’t slept all night as she processed the early morning chaos, but also praised the swift police response to the tragic incident.
“I have to say West Midlands Police did an absolute fantastic job with how quick they actually came to the incident, especially with the many road closures that are currently going on.
“After hearing that first big bang and, y’know, quite a bit of loud talking, screaming, just girls being quite loud… at least fifteen police cars made their way past me within 30 seconds of that and then from there road closures were happening more, it was all within a ten minute period that this was happening so I have to applaud the efforts made that night, especially considering, like I said, the road closures and how many people were actually out tonight.”
“Even though I work in a club and I see, y’know, fights happening, I never thought I’d see what I saw tonight. I’ve never really ever witnessed anything like it.”
Official police statement
In an official statement, West Midlands Police said, “We can confirm that at approximately 12:30am today (Sunday 6 September) we were called to reports of a stabbing in Birmingham city centre.
“We immediately attended, along with colleagues from the ambulance service. A number of other stabbings were reported in the area shortly after.
“We are aware of a number of injured people, but at the moment we are not in a position to say how many or how serious.
“However, all emergency services are working together at the scene, and making sure that those who are injured receive medical care. This has been declared a major incident.
“Work is still going on to establish what has happened, and could take some time before we are in a position to confirm anything. At this early stage it would not be appropriate to speculate on the causes of the incident.
“The emergency services have well-rehearsed plans for dealing with major incidents. Our response is ongoing in Birmingham city centre and will be for some time. Cordons are in place, and there are some road closures.
“Your safety is our priority. We are now reviewing our policing across the city and will make any necessary changes. You may see a greater police presence in the area.”
Roads sealed off
The incident took place in Hurst Street in the Southside district of the city, which includes the Gay Village and the Chinese Quarter.
Photos posted online by local residents show a police cordon set up at the junction of Hurst Street and Bromsgrove Street, near a local Tesco Express and the Missing Bar, a popular LGBT+ venue.
I Am Birmingham reporters on the scene have confirmed part of The Arcadian has also been sealed off, with at least 4 yellow police incident markers placed along its Hurst Walk entrance.
Further evidence markers are also located along Hurst Street near Urban Kitchen and on the street outside several bars including Equator, Sidewalk and Mykonos cafe and bar.
Our reporters saw forensics teams sifting through and taking away evidence from the scene earlier this morning.
In an additional Twitter post about the incident, a spokesperson for the force added:
“We are aware of a number of injured people, but at the moment we are not in a position to say how many or how serious.
“However, all emergency services are working together at the scene, and making sure that those who are injured receive medical care.”
Police have urged members of the public to remain calm but vigilant, and to stay away from the area.
A further “incident” was reported by police around Snow Hill in Birmingham city centre early this morning at 04:00am but it is now known if this is related.
Resident: “I didn’t imagine it would be this bad…”
Local resident Fulvio lives five minutes from where the incident took place and works at PureGym, which falls under the Hurst Street crime scene area currently sealed off by police.
He arrived early for his gym shift but was shocked to discover the police cordon. Speaking to I Am Birmingham, he said:
“I was just going to work, I start my shift at 8.00am, but I just got here and everything is taped off. Apparently there’s been stabbings all over city centre and it’s quite serious… so we’re not allowed to get to work, the whole area is taped off. We’re not allowed to get from one side or the other, so they’ve just sent me home basically.
“I only live 5 minutes down the road, I didn’t really hear anything, it’s very quiet in my area. I used to live, actually, just up here and the weekends were crazy, you know, people shouting… yeah.
“I literally found out as I was walking towards here and I read the news. I didn’t imagine it would be this bad, stabbings happen unfortunately all the time but it looks like it’s worse than anything that’s happened so far.
“Nowadays Birmingham is getting really, really dangerous, especially the city centre so I’m not really surprised. It’s something that is basically happening on a daily basis in Birmingham, stabbings and all that, so it’s not really surprising but it is really sad to hear.”
UPDATE: West Midlands Police have launched a murder investigation after a man died and seven others were injured following multiple stabbings in Birmingham last night.
This is a developing story and I Am Birmingham will continue to update from the scene. Follow us on Twitter @iambirmingham.