'I was scared of being branded a racist': Security guard feared confronting Manchester bomber

Izzy Lyons
·2-min read
Attacker Salman Abedi
Attacker Salman Abedi

A Manchester Arena security guard was scared to confront suicide bomber Salman Abedi for fear of being “branded a racist”, an inquiry has heard. 

Kyle Lawler, a Showsec security official working on the night of the 2017 terror attack, noticed Abedi looking “fidgety and sweaty” in the hour leading up to the bombing. 

Bur Mr Lawler, who was 18 at the time of the attack, said he was “conflicted” about what to do because he “did not want people to think I was stereotyping [Abedi] because of his race”.

"I was scared of being wrong and being branded a racist,” Mr Lawler told the public inquiry into the attack. 

“I felt unsure of what to do. It’s very difficult to define a terrorist. For all I knew he might have been an innocent young Asian male sitting on the steps. 

“If I got it wrong then I would have got into trouble. It made me hesitant about what to do. I wanted to get in right and not to mess up by overreacting and judging someone by their race.”

Asked by Paul Greaney QC, counsel for the inquiry, whether he still worried that people might think he was a racist, Mr Lawler replied: “Yes.”

The inquiry has previously heard from numerous other witnesses who noticed Abedi acting suspiciously on the night of the attack. 

Kyle Lawler, - UNPIXS (EUROPE)
Kyle Lawler, - UNPIXS (EUROPE)

Chris Wild, a father who was waiting for his daughter to leave a music concert at the venue, notified Mohammed Agha, another Showsec security guard, that there was a “dangerous” looking man with a “massive rucksack” waiting in the foyer.

But Mr Agha was “dismissive” of Mr Wild’s concerns and responded: “Yes, yes, we have seen him. He is fine,” according to another witness.

Abedi went on to detonate his homemade bomb packed into his rucksack 15 minutes later, killing 22 people.

The inquiry also heard that Mr Lawler posted an “insensitive” comment on Facebook in January criticising legal reforms being campaigned for by Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, one of the attack’s victims.

Ms Murray is calling for airport style security to be introduced at all major venues in the UK in the fight against terrorism. She has met with Home Secretary Priti Patel over the reforms, named Martyn’s Law.

Mr Lawler apologised for the social media post in which he described the reforms as "a crock of" rubbish.