Family of PC murdered at Westminster pay tribute to his bravery

Shane Hickey
‘We miss him so much, but we are also incredibly proud,’ said Keith Palmer’s family. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA

The family of PC Keith Palmer, who died after he was stabbed by Khalid Masood as he guarded the Palace of Westminster, has thanked those who fought for his life and paid tribute to the “selfless bravery” of the officer. In a statement, the family expressed gratitude to everyone who had contacted them in the days since the attack, singling out those who had helped as he lay fatally injured.

“We have been overwhelmed by the love and support for our family, and most especially, the outpouring of love and respect for our Keith. We want to thank everyone who has reached out to us over the past few days for their kindness and generosity,” the family said.

“The police have been a constant, unwavering support at this very difficult time. It has made us realise what a caring, strong and supportive family Keith was part of during his career with the police. We can’t thank them enough.”

Palmer, 48, was married with a five-year-old daughter. He had joined the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command unit less than a year ago, but had been in the Met since 2001.

“We would also like to express our gratitude to the people who were with Keith in his last moments and who were working that day. There was nothing more you could have done. You did your best and we are just grateful he was not alone. We care about him being remembered for his selfless bravery and loving nature. We miss him so much, but we are also incredibly proud of Keith,” the statement said.

An American tourist who was caught up in the chaos on Wednesday and was ushered into the parliamentary grounds said he believed it was Palmer who brought him and his family to safety. Jay Morris, a surgeon from Seattle on holidays with his wife Jilan Liu and niece Zoe, said the officer had opened a gate into the secure area to let people in and that Masood had followed through the same opening.

“He [Palmer] was not on guard for anything violent because he was helping people and it [would have] made him more vulnerable to attack because he was the first uniform the attacker saw when he came round the corner. He [Masood] ran in a few seconds after Jilan and Zoe,” he said.

The family said they could not be sure it was Palmer who helped them, but Morris added: “I think it was the same guy.” The decision to open the gates could have saved lives, he said. “There would have been no place to go and he [Masood] would have started hurting people.”

The boyfriend of a woman who was knocked off Westminster Bridge into the Thames during the attack was distraught that he could not find his partner afterwards. Andreea Cristea, a 29-year-old Romanian architect, was pulled from the river by a passenger boat after falling into the Thames during the attack.

Andrei Burnaz, her partner, was knocked down by the 4x4 driven by Masood, but could not find Cristea when he got back on his feet. Her mother, Violeta, told the Mail on Sunday that she had called him once she heard what was happening. “He was still on the bridge, screaming that he couldn’t find Andreea, that he didn’t know where she was,” she said.

A JustGiving page set up to raise money for the family of PC Palmer had brought in over £720,000 by Sunday evening, almost three times its target.

JustGiving has said that at its peak, there were 667 donations a minute to the page for PC Palmer. Responding to criticisms about its charges, the website said: “All of these causes are deserving, and each pays a transparent 5% fee, which is fully reinvested in innovation to ensure that the next person in need who comes to JustGiving can raise more than on any other platform.”