Oct. 16 (UPI) — The fatal stabbing of of British member of Parliament David Amess has been declared a terrorist incident, Metropolitan Police said Saturday.
Amess, 69, who had represented Southend West Essex since 1997 for the Conservative Party, died Friday after he was stabbed several times at a meeting with constituents at a church in Leigh-on-Sea.
Dean Haydon, senior national coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing and deputy assistant commissioner, formally declared the fatal stabbing incident as terrorism, Metropolitan Police said, and early investigation has indicated a possible link to Islamist extremism.
An unidentified 25-year-old British man has been taken into custody at a police station in Essex on suspicion of murder, according to police. It is believed he acted alone.
Officers carried out searches at two unnamed addresses in the London area as part of the investigation.
On Saturday, British officials paid their respects to Amess, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer, who laid flowers outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea where Amess was fatally stabbed.
“Rest in peace, dear David,” Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted. “We will all cherish our memories of your kindness, love and affection.”
“We are all struggling to come to terms with the fact that David Amess has been so cruelly taken away from all of us,” Patel later said after paying her respects at the church.
Amess “was absolutely there for everyone, he was a much loved parliamentarian, to me he was a dear and loyal friend, but also he was a devoted husband and father,” she added.
Patel also asked police forces to immediately review security measures for lawmakers that could allow them to continue in-person meetings with constituents.
“We will carry on, we live in an open democracy,” she said. “We cannot be cowed by any individual or any motivation…to stop us from functioning.”
Amess has been the second member of Parliament killed in recent years.
In 2016, lawmaker Jo Cox was fatally shot by a far-right extremist while holding a meeting with constituents in Birstall.