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Jersey stabbings: Neighbour fought off knifeman

15 August 11 17:49
Floral tributes

"So shocked, so saddened, so stunned" reads a card left on flowers at the scene of a knife attack in St Helier.

For Bryan Ogesa, who lives in the apartment building where the six killings took place, the shock has been even greater.

Mr Ogesa has spoken of how he fought off the knifeman with a traffic cone, when the man came towards him soon after the attack, which involved the deaths of three children.

Minutes before, Mr Ogesa said he heard screaming and ran out of his apartment to see the man chasing a woman, with another woman lying on the ground.

"[The woman on the ground] was responsive, but just mumbling," he said. "That's when the guy started coming towards us. He was mumbling as well."

As he fought the man off, his attacker turned the knife on himself.

Another witness, Andre Thorpe, said he later saw police running from the building carrying a small child.

"When the paramedic came back her shirt was covered in blood," he said.

The attacks come after Jersey Police toasted figures showing there has been a drop in serious crime on the island, which is described as a "very safe place".

And Senator Ian Le Marquand, the island's home affairs minister, said he believes the murders are the first killings since 2004.

The attack happened at Victoria Crescent in a quiet, leafy area of St Helier, Jersey's capital.

The victims were from two families, one of which the police confirmed was originally from Poland.

A 30-year-old man, who had emergency surgery after the attack, was arrested over the deaths.

People have been leaving floral tributes at the scene written in both English and Polish.

One woman came to place flowers in tribute to those killed and was too tearful to speak, a testament to the distress felt by the community.

Anna Baklarz, a member of Jersey's Polish community, said she was concerned about the effect this will have on her and her people.

"The first reaction was people terrified but the most shocking thing is that people are really scared of the reaction in Jersey from the English community," she said.

"People are worried that the Polish community will not be accepted anymore, people I spoke to face-to-face said 'Oh God, they are going to hate us'."

However, Jersey resident Emma Smith, a nursery worker said she was "shocked" to think people would be "hated" because of the incident.

"The people of Jersey will come together and support the Polish community," she said on Facebook.

"We all feel a great sadness about what has happened and feel for those coming to terms with their loss in such awful circumstances."

There are about 4,000 Polish people living in Jersey at any one time, according to the island's chief statistician, Duncan Gibault.

The day of the attack also saw the end of the Polish Festival in St Helier, an event designed to bring the island's communities together and celebrate what they offer each other.

'Be strong'

After the incident a page was set up on Facebook called "RIP Those Killed in St. Helier 14/08/2011" and was liked by over 4,500 in less than 24 hours.

"Words cannot express the feelings of the people of jersey. R.I.P. those who have had their lives cut short and may god comfort those who are left behind," Mich Ollivro-Squirrel, in one message.

"My heart goes out to all who have been touched by this tragedy may your faith give you the strength you need in the coming days."

Bartosz Urtnowski, a member of the Polish community said he was shocked and surprised something like this could happen in Jersey.

"I cannot believe it actually, it is a very sad thing to happen, I feel sad for the family and for us as a Polish community," he said.

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