The fatal stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess has been classified as a terrorist attack, according to Metropolitan Police.
At lunchtime on Friday, the 69-year-old was fatally injured while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, near Southend, where he had been an MP since 1983.
In a statement by the Met Police, Andrew Couldridge said that the incident had been formally labelled terrorist by Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon.
Counter-terrorism officers are in charge of the inquiry. According to the force, the preliminary inquiry found “a potential motivation tied to Islamist extremism.”
A 25-year-old male was arrested at the site and is being held at an Essex police station on suspicion of murder. The suspect is thought to be a British national with Somali ancestry.
Andrew Couldridge said officers were also conducting searches at two houses in the London region as part of the inquiry, according to the Met.
The police believe the man acted alone and are not looking for anyone else in connection with the event at this time, but they are continuing their investigation into the circumstances of the occurrence.
Following the attack, Home Secretary Priti Patel has instructed all police agencies to reassess security procedures for MPs “with immediate effect.”
Sir David, a 69-year-old Southend West MP, was “simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short,” according to Essex Police Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington.
Sir David, a Tory veteran who had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children, was spoken about highly by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics.”
Following the stabbing, Ms Patel met with police and officers from the security and intelligence agencies. The stabbing occurred while Sir David was holding a surgery in his Southend West constituency.
Ms Patel’s spokesman said, “The Home Secretary has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs with immediate effect and will provide updates in due course.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, the inquiry will look into Operation Bridger, a nationwide police protective security operation established in 2016 in response to threats made against MPs following debates on Syria in Parliament.
According to The Times, Ms Patel will make a statement to Parliament on the review on Monday.
Sir David’s attack came barely five and a half years after Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in her Batley and Spen district in West Yorkshire by a far-right extremist.
In the aftermath of Sir David’s murder, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle announced police were calling all MPs to check on their safety.