Two university students among three killed in Nottingham knife and van attacks

Two teenage students and a man in his 60s were stabbed to death, and a further three people were injured after a stolen van plowed into them, in a spree of violence across the English city of Nottingham early Tuesday morning.

Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar, both 19-year-old students at the University of Nottingham, and Ian Coates, 65, a school janitor, were fatally stabbed.

A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Nottinghamshire Police said Wednesday that they were “working closely with counter terrorism policing to establish the facts,” but added they were keeping an “open mind” about the motive.

Police were called to Ilkeston Road in the northwest of the city just after 4 a.m. local time (11 p.m. ET) on Tuesday, after a member of the public reported that two young people had been stabbed and were unresponsive.

Another member of the public then called police to Milton Street, after the driver of a stolen van had attempted to run over three people – in an attack which left one man in hospital in a critical condition, and two others with minor injuries.

The vehicle was then stopped on Maple Street, where the suspect was tasered and detained on suspicion of murder by police officers.

Coates was later found dead from knife injuries on Magdala Road by a member of the public, police said.

“At the moment, we believe that the suspect has stolen this man’s vehicle and driven it to Milton Street, where he has then driven at members of the public,” Chief Constable Kate Meynell told reporters on Tuesday evening.

Meynell said “we are still in the early stages of the investigation and need to determine exactly what the motives were behind this attack.”

One eyewitness, Lynn Haggitt, told the BBC she saw a white van go “straight into these two people,” during her work commute.

“The woman went on the kerb. The man went up in the air. It was such a bang,” Haggitt said. “I wish I never saw it, it’s really shaken me up.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Detectives have spent “countless hours piecing together” the events using security camera footage and eyewitness accounts, according to a police statement released Wednesday.

The statement added that investigations so far had found that “a man matching the description of the suspect” tried to break into a residential home, but “was denied entry.” The incident was not reported to the police at the time.

‘Complete devastation’

“It is with great sadness that we confirm the sudden and unexpected death of two of our students following a major incident in Nottingham city center overnight,” the University of Nottingham’s vice-chancellor Shearer West confirmed in a statement on Tuesday.

The university added that this is likely to cause distress for staff and students in the community and that support is available through their wellbeing services.

Tributes have poured in for the three victims: Webber, Kumar and Coates.

“Complete devastation is not enough to describe our pain and loss at the senseless murder of our son,” Webber’s family said Wednesday in a statement shared by Nottinghamshire Police. “His brother is bereft beyond belief.”

Webber, from Taunton, England, was a talented young cricketer who was studying history, according to the statement.

“Barnaby Philip John Webber was a beautiful, brilliant, bright young man, with everything in life to look forward to,” his family said.

“At 19 he was just at the start of his journey into adulthood and was developing into a wonderful young man,” the family added.

Bishops Hull Cricket Club, Webber’s local team where he had played since 2021, also released a statement following the news, calling him a “dear friend and teammate” and inviting members of the public to leave flowers for him at the club.

“‘Webbs’ joined the club back in 2021 and has since then been a key part of our club and made such an impact in such a short space of time,” the statement said.

Kumar, a first-year medical student and a hockey player for the England Under-16 and Under-18s squads, also received tributes from her family and from teams she represented.

Her family said: “Grace was an adored daughter and sister; she was a truly wonderful and beautiful young lady.”

“We were so incredibly proud of Grace’s achievements and what a truly lovely person she was. She was resilient and wise beyond her years. Grace was so happy in life fulfilling her ambition of studying to become a doctor whilst playing topflight hockey at university,” the statement added.

Kumar’s parents said: “Words cannot explain our complete and utter devastation.”

“We are all deeply saddened by the news,” England Hockey, the national governing body for field hockey, said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with Grace’s family, friends, teammates and the whole hockey community at this time,” it added.

Coates’ employers, the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust and Huntingdon Academy, also expressed shock at the school site manager’s death.

“Ian was a much-loved colleague who always went the extra mile for the benefit of our children and will be greatly missed. As a school community, it will take time to process this deeply upsetting news,” Ross Middleton, headteacher of Huntingdon Academy, said in a statement Wednesday.

L.E.A.D. Academy Trust CEO Diana Owen said in a statement: “I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear about this tragic news. Ian was a beloved and respected member of the Huntingdon Academy staff.”

A vigil was held for those killed at St Peter’s Church in Nottingham on Tuesday evening, and the Lawn Tennis Association held a minute of silence for the victims before play began at the Rothesay Open in Nottingham on Wednesday.

The city of Nottingham will hold a separate vigil at 5.30 p.m. local time (12.30 p.m. ET) on Thursday for Webber, Kumar and Coates.

“Our city remains in shock after the tragic death of three people. We know the impact of these awful events will be felt not only by the victims’ families and friends but by the wider Nottingham community and so it is important that we take time to join together to share our grief and to remember the people we have lost,” said Leader of Nottingham City Council David Mellen in a Wednesday statement.

Uncertain motives

Chief Constable Meynell told reporters on Tuesday evening that police were working to determine the suspect’s motives.

“Officers have also carried out a number of searches at addresses across the city to gather evidence,” Meynell said.

“A team of dedicated detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incidents and will continue to gather evidence over the coming days,” she added.

No further arrests have been made, according to Meynell, who did not take questions from reporters.

“This is a very sad day for our city and we will do everything possible to get justice for the victims and their families,” Meynell said.

This post appeared first on