Big Issue vendor deaths ‘senseless’

THE founder of the Big Issue last night condemned the fatal stabbings of two vendors in a city centre as “utterly senseless”.

The two men who died in the incident in a busy shopping street in Birmingham were “well-liked, well mannered” sellers of the magazine, published on behalf of and sold by homeless or vulnerably housed people, John Bird said.

Bird said he and everyone at the publication were struggling to make sense of what had happened.

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West Midlands Police believe that hundreds of people may have witnessed the stabbings in Union Street just before 6pm on Friday and asked anyone who saw the attacks to come forward.

A force spokesman said that they have identified the victims, but their details are not yet being released.

Officers and passers-by administered emergency first aid on both men, who were in their 30s, but they were pronounced dead at the scene.

A 23-year-old man was arrested shortly afterwards. He remained in police custody last night.

Post-mortem examinations on the two men are due to take place.

In a statement, Bird said: “Myself and everyone at the Big Issue have 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.

“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.”

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Extra police patrols were being mounted in the city centre throughout the weekend.

A man, whose shop overlooks the Sainsbury’s store where one of the victims was found, said: “I heard there had been a row in the morning and then a bloke had gone back and stabbed them both.”