Police: Subway Shooting Not Tied to Bomb Probe

Reversing earlier statements, London authorities now say a man plainclothes officers trailed to a city subway station and then shot to death Friday had no apparent connection to the bombings of July 21. Police have yet to name the man.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Mr. CHARLES IVES (Police Constable): Two explosions within the space of four minutes. First, a huge explosion first, then obviously a state of panic. Lots of people running everywhere and, you know, obviously, we sort of tried to get away from them. And then--so if we started walking, then four minutes later the second one went off.

SIMON: That's British Police Constable Charles Ives speaking from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Constable Ives was there when bombs went off last night killing at least 88 people and wounding more than 200. It is the most devastating terrorist attack ever on Egypt and we will keep you updated on that story in NPR shows throughout the day, but right now, we're turning our attention back to London because we're receiving reports of dramatic new developments there as police continue to investigate Thursday's four attempted terrorist attacks.

Police now say the man they shot dead on Friday on the subways was not connected to the investigations of the bombings either of this week's or the ones earlier in the month that killed more than 50 people in London. Joining us now is NPR's Rachel Martin.

Rachel, thanks for being with us.

RACHEL MARTIN reporting:

Sure. Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: The Metropolitan Police at one point said this was a man who came out of a house that was under surveillance. He jumped a turnstile. He didn't stop when instructed. On top of everything else, he was wearing bulky clothing in sweltering weather. What's happened at that version of events now?

MARTIN: Well, the version of events has changed today. It's been quite a dramatic turnaround. Previously police had said the man who was chased by armed officers into the Stockwell tube station in the south of the city had nothing to do with their investigation into the terrorist attacks. Police said they followed the man from a house that they'd put under surveillance after the Thursday attacks. When he was challenged by police, they said he ran into a subway station and armed officers ran after him. Police said he was shot after refusing to obey their instructions, but according to eyewitnesses, police officers then fired several shots into the man from close range. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police then announced that the man was directly linked to Thursday's attempted bombings in London. So far, police authorities have not released the name of the man or his identity.

SIMON: I'm trying to figure out what's changed over, well, the past few hours.

MARTIN: Basically, police have...

SIMON: What caused them to come forward and acknowledge this?

MARTIN: They've had an ongoing independent police investigation into the shooting looking at the circumstances, and while they have not been very forthcoming with details of that investigation or the broader terrorist investigation, they did today announce that the man had nothing to do with the Thursday attacks. They had been surveying the man's home. He was identified as a possible suspect in those attacks, and when he fled into the subway station, they chased him. He refused to obey directions. And they fired and he was killed by those shots. They did affirm that he was connected to the attacks on Friday. Then today they've changed their story. They say, `No, he had nothing to do with the Thursday attacks.' They have yet to confirm whether or not he has been linked to the more significant and fatal attacks of July 7th.

SIMON: Even before today's announcement, there had been some debate over what seems to be a change in definition of police tactics. Hasn't there been?

MARTIN: There has. This man was shot by plain-clothed officers believed to have been part of an elite anti-terrorism unit. This group was recently set up to deal with the potential terrorist situations. After Thursday's killing, Islamic leaders expressed some concern about Muslims being targeted by the investigation and civil liberties groups are raising concerns as well. They claim since the July 7th attacks, police have been given the go-ahead to operate on a shoot-to-kill basis when dealing with potential suicide bombers and that's caused some controversy.

SIMON: NPR's Rachel Martin in London, thanks very much.

MARTIN: Thank you, Scott.

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