London Bridge attack inquest: Knifeman was shot 60cm from armed officer

UK News
Youssef ZaghbaImage copyright Met’s Counter Terrorism Command
Image caption Youssef Zaghba, armed with a knife, charged at a firearms officer before being shot dead

One of the London Bridge attackers was less than 60cm (23in) away from an armed police officer when he was shot dead, an inquest has heard.

Det Supt Rebecca Riggs said forensic evidence suggested how close knifeman Youssef Zaghba had been to an officer.

Zaghba and two others left eight people dead and 48 injured when they drove a van into pedestrians and stabbed people in Borough Market on 3 June 2017.

Det Supt Riggs was giving evidence at inquests into the victims’ deaths.

The Old Bailey had heard previously that Zaghba, armed with a knife, had charged at the firearms officer and was within touching distance when the officer opened fire.

Det Supt Riggs, who was in charge of the Metropolitan Police investigation into the attacks, said eight armed officers fired a total of 46 shots at the three attackers.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The armed officers who killed the knifemen have not been named at the inquest

Zaghba’s accomplices Khuram Butt, 27, and Rachid Redouane, 30, were struck by at least six bullets each, the court heard.

Det Supt Riggs said Zaghba, 22, was hit at least twice.

Summarising evidence that had already been heard in court, Det Supt Riggs confirmed that at 22:23 BST – seven minutes after the initial volley of shots – officers opened fire again on Butt and Redouane.

They were thought to be still moving and wearing explosive vests, which were later revealed to be fake.

Image caption The victims of the London Bridge attack (clockwise from top left): Christine Archibald, Sebastien Belanger, Kirsty Boden, Ignacio Echeverria, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas, Alexandre Pigeard, James McMullan

Det Supt Riggs said officers fired twice more at Butt at 22:29 and 22:31.

Another senior officer told the court back-up firearms officers then had to be drafted in.

‘Very confusing’

City of London Police temporary commander David Evans – the force’s most senior officer on duty on the night of the attacks – described the police control room as “exceptionally busy” even after the trio were shot, and said he experienced “information overload”.

“It continued to be a very confusing period, with reports of potentially linked incidents, so part of my responsibility now that firearms officers were engaged in a post-incident process was to have firearms cover,” he said.

Xavier Thomas, 45, Chrissy Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, were killed by the attackers.

Det Supt Riggs said 124 crime scenes were processed, almost 6,100 exhibits seized and 22 addresses searched in the subsequent investigation.

The court heard 22 people were arrested but released without charge.

When Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquests, asked Det Supt Riggs if there was anything to suggest the attack had been directed from overseas, or by a wider network, she said: “No, there was no evidence of that.”

She admitted the phones used by the three knifemen in the build-up to the attack were never recovered.

Mr Hough said the weapon taken from Butt had DNA on it thought to relate to Mr Pigeard and DNA traces thought to relate to Ms Zelenak and Mr Belanger – as well as traces thought to be Zaghba’s.

A knife found next to Zaghba had DNA thought to relate to Ms Boden and Mr Belanger, Mr Hough said.

The knife attached to Redouane’s wrist also had DNA linked to Mr Belanger and Mr Echeverria and DNA thought to relate to Ms Zelenak, the court heard.

The inquests continue.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48640408

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