Murdered British lawmaker Jo Cox had contacted police over threats

Floral tributes and candles are placed by a picture of slain Labour MP Jo Cox at a vigil in Parliament square in London on June 16.
Floral tributes and candles are placed by a picture of slain Labour MP Jo Cox at a vigil in Parliament square in London on June 16.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON – British lawmaker Jo Cox, who was killed on Thursday (June 16), had previously contacted police after receiving “malicious communications” and they had arrested a man in connection with the investigation in March, Reuters reported. 

Police said that the man they had arrested at that time was not the 52-year-old man who was being held in custody in West Yorkshire following his arrest close to the crime scene.

“Officers received an allegation of malicious communications from Jo Cox MP, and in March 2016 arrested a man in connection with the investigation,” police said.  “The man subsequently accepted a police caution.” 

Cox, a 41-year-old lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party and a vocal advocate of Britain’s European Union membership, died after she was shot and stabbed repeatedly by a man who witnesses said shouted “Britain first”.

Both sides in Britain’s EU referendum suspended campaigning after the attack.

Reports also said Cox had received piles of hate mail before she was killed, according to the Daily Mail, though there was no known link between that and her murder.

The police had also mulled over boosting her security detail, but had not done so yet before the attack, the Times newspaper reported, saying more security was being considered at her ward where the attack took place and her residence in London.

A man had been warned over the abusive letters, the Daily Mail said, quoting sources. Mrs Cox had not been concerned about them until they escalated, it added.

Mrs Cox was reportedly shot and stabbed in the street, according to witnesses quoted by the daily.

 

Video footage from ITV shows a man, later identified as Thomas Mair, 52, being arrested in the street after the attack.

The Daily Mail quoted Mr Clarke Rothwell, who works at a nearby cafe, as saying that the attacker had shouted "Britain first" as he attacked Mrs Cox.

"He was stabbing her with a foot-long knife multiple times while shouting 'Britain first, Britain first, Britain first'. Three times she was shot, the initial time which then she dropped to the floor, and two more times. The third time he got close proximity, he shot her round the head area," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"In the meantime he was stabbing her as well, he was stabbing her with his knife."

Mr Rothwell, 42, said he had rushed over when he heard a "popping sound".

"He seemed to have what looked like an old gun, like a musket, in his hand and he shot her again in the middle," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying about the gunman.

"He then seemed to shoot a third time, towards her head or face. He was also stabbing at her with what looked like a hunting knife, about a foot long. He was stabbing her and waving the knife around. A man who I know... tried to get near but the man swung his knife around and caught him in the stomach. Blood started coming out."

A 77-year-old was also injured in the attack.

Mr Hichem Ben Abdallah, 56, who owns a restaurant in the town, told the Daily Mail that he heard screaming and went out into the street, only to see Mrs Cox on the ground.

"I saw a man wrestling with a guy with a baseball cap, trying to restrain him, but he shrugged him off. All of a sudden he started shouting and he pulled a gun from his bag. It looked like an old shotgun, maybe with a shortened barrel, the size of a cucumber. Then he fired and three or four seconds later he fired again. Bang, bang," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

"At the first shot everyone ran, but then the adrenaline kicked in and we went closer again... He then just calmly walked away down the street."

Mr Abdallah described the gun as looking "handmade", according to the Daily Mail.

"She was a standing-still target for him when he shot her... She was sat on the floor and looked like she was on the beach, her hair was roughed up, her face and legs were bloody," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.