Tory MP Sir David Amess has died after being stabbed multiple times while at a constituency surgery at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
The Conservative MP, 69, was reported to be receiving treatment at the scene but he could not be revived.
Police have sealed off the area and the street outside has been placed on lockdown.
Essex Police have arrested a man on suspicion of murder following the incident.
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“He was stabbed several times,” John Lamb, a local councillor at the scene, said.
Shortly before 3pm a spokesperson for Essex Police said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion murder after a man was stabbed in #LeighonSea.
“We were called to Eastwood Road North shortly after 12.05pm. Sadly, a man later died.
“A man was arrested at the scene. We are not looking for anyone else.”
Tributes to Sir David were led by Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister’s wife.
“Absolutely devastating news about Sir David Amess,” she tweeted.
“He was hugely kind and good. An enormous animal lover and a true gent.
“This is so completely unjust. Thoughts are with his wife and their children.”
The incident has caused shockwaves to spread through the usually quiet neighbourhood.
Witnesses on the scene recalled the chaos that unfolded after Sir David was attacked.
Anthony Gavin Fitch)
Lee Jordison, 40, was told that a woman came out from the church screaming ‘he’s not breathing’.
He told The Mirror: “I was working in our shop about 100 metres away when I was alerted to ambulances and police cars going past.
“I took a walk down the road and saw police setting up a cordon. I spoke to someone walking up the road and they said there was a stabbing in the church.
“There were lots of ambulances and police with machine guns.
“I heard from a couple of people that a lady came out screaming phoning the police saying ‘please get here quickly he’s not breathing’.”
Anthony Gavin Fitch, 38, said: “I was exiting my vehicle to look at a job after parking up outside the church.
“As I was walking across the road I saw a few people sitting on the wall outside the church and one was on the phone to the police.
“She was saying ‘get here as soon as you can, he’s still in the building’. She was wearing a badge with the Tory logo on it.
“He was taken away by two officers with armed police behind him. He didn’t make any noise.
“I heard it was a stabbing from a lady who was inside the church at the time. She was upset and said David Amess had been stabbed three times.
“She said there was an altercation and then the suspect stabbed him. I think he’s still in the church, he (Sir David) hasn’t been taken out.”
An air ambulance was on the scene in the picturesque seaside town.
One witness called the incident “very distressing” and described seeing someone being taken out of the building and put into the back of a police car, before he was asked to leave the area.
“At that point obviously we knew something serious had happened,” he told LBC.
“Within five minutes we’d been informed by someone who was actually in the building what had happened and apparently he (Sir David Amess) had been stabbed quite a few times. It’s very distressing that’s for sure.”
Eastnews Press Agency)
He added: “It’s a nice area… it’s not something that you’d see happening round this area that’s for sure.
“It’s just a residential street with a Methodist church on the road and you don’t often hear of things like this going on down this way.
“To have it next door to where you’re working is obviously very upsetting and very unlike what it’s like round here. It’s very odd and it’s very distressing, that’s for sure.”
It is not clear if the MP’s wife, Julia Arnold, was with him at the time, although she did help him with casework.
Richard Townshend Photography)
Sir David was considered to be on the right of the Tory party and opposed bills furthering LGBT rights, including equal age of consent and same-sex marriage.
Earlier this year he spoke out about anti-social behaviour and knife crime, and was a a firm supporter of Brexit.
His most recent message on Twitter alerted people to the constituency surgery today.
Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted: “Horrific and deeply shocking news. Thinking of David, his family and his staff.”
His deputy Angela Rayner wrote: “I’m horrified by the reports regarding David Amess and an incident at his constituency surgery today.”
Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo, tweeted: “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself.
“There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.”
Other MPs also shared their shock at the news.
Senior Tory Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “My thoughts are with David Amess MP and his family at this awful time.”
Tory MP for Bishop Auckland Dehenna Davison tweeted: “Absolutely horrendous news. David is one of the kindest, most supportive, most dedicated people I know.
“My thoughts are with him and his family.”
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: “Sending my thoughts and prayers to David Amess, his family and friends. Such shocking and terrible news.”
An employee of Jean’s Laundry, near Belfair’s Methodist Church, said she did not know anything about the situation but had seen emergency service vehicles go by.
“We just saw all the police and the ambulances turning up, it was probably about half past 12 or just before then,” she told the PA news agency.
“I saw about two or three ambulances and then an undercover police car and other police cars going past.
“There’s usually people walking past, elderly people walking to the shops. We’ve still got no idea what’s going on, we’re not very busy on a Friday and no one has come in to talk to us about it.”
Media opportunities to film the start of a Cabinet meeting on Friday have been cancelled, as was a planned interview with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which was due to take place afterwards.
It is unclear whether the Cabinet meeting is going ahead.
In recent years multiple MPs have been attacked.
Labour MP Jo Cox, 41, was murdered in Birstall in her Batley and Spen constituency, West Yorks, a week before the 2016 Brexit referendum.
The mum of two was shot and stabbed by a far-right extremist, Thomas Mair, who shouted “Britain first!” before attacking her.
He was found guilty of murder and given a whole-life term.
In 2010, Labour MP Stephen Timms was stabbed by Roshonara Choudhry, then 21, while he held a constituency surgery.
Choudury told police she wanted “to get revenge for the people of Iraq”.
Mr Timms had backed the 2003 US-led invasion.
She was convicted of attempted murder and jailed for life. The judge told her she would serve a minimum of 15 years.
Mr Timms, now 66, survived the attack and continues to represent the London constituency of East Ham.
Andrew Pennington, an aide to Lib Dem MP Nigel Jones, was killed in 2000 as he assisted Mr Jones with a constituency surgery in Cheltenham, Glos.
Robert Ashman, who the MP had been helping with legal issues, attacked Mr Jones with a samurai sword.
Mr Pennington rushed to help but Ashman turned on the aide and stabbed him to death. He admitted Mr Pennington’s manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was convicted by a jury of attempting to murder the MP.
A judge sent him to a secure hospital for an indefinite period. He was freed in 2008.
Essex Police said anyone with information should contact the force quoting incident 445 of 15 October.
More to follow.