So about half past 3 this afternoon, I was wandering up to Caffe Nero in Ealing Broadway. The promised double-dip big freeze seemed to be kicking in and drizzly needling rain was making for a gloomy day, all round. And the icing on the cake was that later, I was supposed to be catching a 207 bus to Hayes. I’m not a big fan of Hayes. I am of icing and cake, though..
A coffee and snack first then. Decided.That’s when, lost in thought, I was halted abruptly by police tape stretching across the road and both pavements. Police too, stood, preventing people from going any further. I realised how quiet it was. No traffic. This roadblock went on for some distance. There were quite a few parked cop cars around and an officer was telling people to move along if they hadn’t seen anything. I thought that there must have been a road accident, though I couldn’t see any vehicles. I contemplated doubling back on myself to Starbucks but then thought, no, I prefer the Italian blend these days and and anyway, I only needed a couple more stamps on my card for a free cup.
So I went around the back streets and managed to circumnavigate my way into the cafe. It was virtually empty. No passers-by, see. I savoured my brew. Oh, and a lemon muffin. No icing but darn good. Right, Hayes it is then, I thought, resignedly, half-expecting the police tape to have now been removed meaning that i’d be allowed back up the Broadway, unhindered.. And that’s when I saw that it had turned into C.S.I. Ealing..
It was all go. There were more police cars parked dramatically, zig zag fashion. There were plain clothes cops with clipboards in the middle of the road. A tent had been set up and there were the forensics in their spacesuits carrying stuff into vans. At one point, two regular police carried a long plastic bag and I thought for a horrible moment that it was a body bag. Then I noticed some wood sticking out of the end.
The word was spreading that two policeman had been stabbed. One was critical and the other, a special, they say, was less seriously injured. There were plenty of gawpers around, myself included, though I did try and catch my bus to Hayes. But after moving about 3 feet in 10 minutes, I got off again. No Hayes today. Oh well, every cloud and all that…
Now there were several TV and radio reporters setting up equipment on the sidewalk.(‘pavement’ doesn’t cut it when it’s all gone C.S.I.) and yet more cars were arriving. Things were looking serious. And then it dawned on me that this was because, if rumours were to be believed, there was a possibilty that this could soon very well become a murder scene..
I stood close to several eye witnesses and earwigged as they spoke to press and reporters about the various parts of the incident they’d seen. From what I gathered, this is a close apporoximation of what occurred.
Police were doing bus ticket checks on a 207 bus. At a stop near the Town Hall, a man, acting suspiciously, got off the bus. (I’ve heard since that he was already known to and wanted by police). I heard that he wasapproached and that an argument quickly escalated and the man stabbed two officers. A witness said that at one point, the perpetrator held an officer in a headlock on the ground and that there was blood everywhere. I heard that about 5 other police then piled onto the guy to try and get him off the policeman. A woman said that they were stamping on his hand to try and get the knife away from him. Apparently the guy had been arrested.
I took a few photos. I have to say that the police were being very calm with bystanders by now and were not ordering them way from the scene, just keeping them firmly on the right side of the police tape. I asked a uniform if he knew how the victims were. He didn’t know. My phone was on low battery and once it conked out I didn’t really feel the need to stand rubbernecking any longer. As I walked home, I heard more cars en route to the scene. The sound of sirens. A radio report emanating from an open shop doorway was confirming the critical stabbing of one officer and the less serious injury of another, in broad daylight in Ealing Broadway this afternoon.
I, like many others, have been pretty critical of the police this week, over some of their treatment of protesters during the student demos, in particular the wheelchair bound Jody Mcintyre, dragged from his wheels by bully boys in uniform. However, in this context, critical is not something I enjoyed hearing.
And that bag that I thought had a body in it, well, later, watching the rolling TV news, I noticed they kept showing that bit, obviously hoping to get the same reaction from viewers. And that struck me as a little cheap and nasty..