Stab victims may have been homeless
Forensic experts at the scene on Union Street in Birmingham city centre after two men were stabbed to death
The victims of a double fatal stabbing that took place in front of hundreds of people in a busy city centre may have been two homeless men, it has emerged.
West Midlands Police said hundreds of shoppers and workers may have witnessed the stabbings in the centre of Birmingham just before 6pm on Friday night.
One man, in his 30s, is understood to have been stabbed outside a Sainsbury's store on Martineau Place, and the second, also in his 30s, was found slumped near Boots in Union Street.
Officers gave first aid to the men but both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Police have not yet confirmed whether the two victims were homeless but nearby stall workers said they were well-known in the area.
Shortly after the incident, a 23-year-old man was arrested in New Street, near the Odeon cinema, and is currently in custody. It is not known whether he was also homeless.
A woman, who runs a stall near the Sainsbury's store and did not want to be named, said: "If it's who I think it is they've been around here for a while. They were homeless and two lovely men. One of them had a dog called Scooby who I used to bring titbits for. I can't believe they're both dead." A man, whose shop overlooks the store, said: "I heard there had been a row in the morning and then a bloke had gone back and stabbed them both."
It is thought the two victims may have been selling The Big Issue without a licence and a row ensued.
The Big Issue confirmed that both stabbing victims were vendors of the publication. Founder and editor-in-chief John Bird said: "Myself and everyone at The Big Issue has been deeply saddened to hear the tragic news that two of our well-liked Birmingham-based vendors were stabbed to death in the city centre yesterday evening. We are struggling to make any sense of this utterly senseless attack, and our sincerest condolences go out to the families of the victims.
"This awful crime, perpetrated against two hard-working, mild-mannered men, only serves to illustrate the extreme vulnerability of people who live and work on the streets. Which is why we at The Big Issue are constantly striving to create opportunities which will help our vendors to get off the streets and out of harm's way. We are truly devastated that these two individuals have been deprived of just such a future."