A man has been arrested in connection with the murder of 87-year-old pensioner Thomas O’Halloran, who was stabbed to death on his mobility scooter in London on Tuesday.
The attack, which has caused outrage among the local community and wider public, occurred on Western Avenue in Greenford shortly after 4 p.m. on Tuesday. According to a statement by the Metropolitan Police, O’Halloran managed to travel 75 yards from the scene on his mobility scooter to Runnymede Gardens, where he flagged down a member of the public for help.
Despite the emergency aid of first responders, and the efforts of both the London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance, O’Halloran was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities released CCTV images on Wednesday of a man who was seen running from the scene armed with a knife, and urged anyone who recognized the individual to call 999.
The Metropolitan Police later confirmed that a 44-year-old man had been arrested at an address in Southall in the early hours of Thursday on suspicion of O’Halloran’s murder; he remains in custody.
“I would like to thank the public for their overwhelming support following this horrific incident. As a result of the release of a CCTV image yesterday, an arrest has been made and this investigation is progressing at pace,” Detective Chief Inspector Jim Eastwood who leads the investigation said in a statement.
“Mr. O’Halloran’s family have been updated with this development and continue to be supported by specially trained officers. I would reiterate their previous request that their privacy is respected by everyone as they continue to come to terms with their tragic loss,” he added.
The death of Thomas O’Halloran was the sixth murder investigation to be launched in Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan’s London in the space of just four days, and the 66th so far this year.
Khan eventually commented publicly on the pensioner’s death on Thursday, calling his death “devastating” in a tweet.
O’Halloran, who was originally from Ennistymon, Co Clare, in the west of Ireland, had been a popular member of the local community. A local busker, he had been on his way to play his accordion to raise money for Ukrainian refugees.
Hitesh Patel, 62, a shop owner at the nearby Greenford station, told the Evening Standard: “He always had a Ukraine flag on the front of his basket. It said ‘Help for Ukraine.’ He was a very good, kind man.”
“It’s so sad. My son loved him. He would ask him to blow his horn on the scooter whenever he saw him and he would. He is so upset. Why would anyone hurt an old man?” added another local, Tony Paraskeba, 52.
London authorities confirmed that the public would see extra officers patrolling the area over the coming days, and urged anyone with any concerns or information to approach them. “They are there to help and protect you,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
“I realize the impact incidents like this have on our communities, but I’d like to reassure you that we are doing all we can to solve the horrendous crimes we’ve seen across London over the last few days,” Detective Chief Inspector Jim Eastwood added.