LONDON — A woman was beheaded by a man in North London on Thursday during a machete-wielding rampage through a series of suburban backyards that also included an attack on a pet cat.
Police officers cornered the 25-year-old suspect in a large house after evacuating neighbors who heard there was a “madman on the loose.” At least one Metropolitan Police officer was injured during the struggle to subdue the man. The suspect was Tasered before being arrested on suspicion of murder, and taken to hospital.
Other potential victims fled the area, as a man smashed down fences as he charged from yard to yard and attacked a driver in a car, breaking the side window.
The decapitated body of the 82-year-old victim identified by police as Palmira Silva was discovered slumped in the garden of a house on a busy road in Edmonton. Local reports suggested that the cat was also decapitated.
Scotland Yard said officers they were unaware of the motivation behind the horrific slaying which comes three days after the publication of an ISIS video that showed a British man beheading an American journalist. An off duty British soldier was killed and suffered an attempted beheading during an attack by Islamists on a London street last year.
“Whilst it is too early to speculate on what the motive behind this attack was, I am confident, based on the information currently available to me, that it is not terrorist related,” said detective chief inspector John Sandlin, who is leading the investigation.
"This is was a highly visible attack in broad daylight on a residential street. I can understand why this may cause people concern, however we are confident that we are not looking for anyone else at this stage,” said Sandlin.
Police officers said the man was detained by firearms officers, one of whom suffered a broken wrist, near the scene of the killing. The man was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Speaking to reporters at the scene of the attack, Metropolitan Police commander Simon Letchford said at least one officer had been injured as they broke into a house to confront the alleged killer.
“They put themselves in extreme danger to protect the public, to ensure that his behavior was stopped as soon as it possibly could be," he said. "Officers who attended the scene have evacuated a number of those people from those premises to make them safe. During that period they distracted the man from carrying out any further attacks."