A 27-year-old man has been charged with murder and seven counts of attempted murder after a series of stabbings in Birmingham.
Zephaniah McLeod, of Nately Grove, Selly Oak, Birmingham, will appear at the city’s magistrates’ court on Wednesday following knife attacks which resulted in the death of Jacob Billington on Sunday, West Midlands Police said.
The force declared a major incident after Mr Billington was killed and seven other people were stabbed during a rampage in the city centre spanning some 90 minutes.
Two of the victims remain in a critical condition – with one, a 22-year-old woman, now critical but stable.
Another man, aged 30, remains in a serious condition in hospital, while four others have been discharged.
Mr Billington was fatally stabbed in Irving Street, Birmingham, at about 1.52am, while out with old school friends from Liverpool, who were visiting the city.
A post-mortem examination concluded he died from a stab wound to the neck.
Zephaniah McLeod, 27, of Nately Grove, Selly Oak, also faces 7 counts of attempted murder.
— West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) September 8, 2020
His devastated family paid tribute to him as the “light of our life”, in a statement issued through police on Monday.
The 23-year-old, from Crosby, Merseyside, had been working as a library intern at Sheffield Hallam University, after graduating there, and was also a drummer in a band.
A university spokesman said: “Jacob was a Sheffield Hallam graduate and had joined the library as a graduate intern, where his warmth and enthusiasm made him a greatly valued member of our team.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.”
One of Mr Billington’s friends, Michael Callaghan, also 23 and a fellow bandmate, was seriously injured in the attack.
Both men had previously attended Sacred Heart Catholic College in Crosby, where prayers were said on Monday evening for their families.
In a statement the school said: “We are saddened at the events in Birmingham which took Jacob’s life and left Michael critically injured.”
It added: “We are praying for Michael’s recovery and will never forget Jacob, his life touched so many in our school.”
Three people arrested early on Monday at an address in Selly Oak on suspicion of assisting an offender have all been released pending investigation, police said.
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Munro, leading the investigation, said: “Since these tragic events unfolded in the early hours of Sunday morning we’ve had a team of officers working non-stop on the investigation.
“Our driving focus is to secure justice for the victims, their family and friends.
“Our sympathies remain with everyone who’s been impacted by these terrible crimes.
“Our investigation continues and I would urge any witnesses who’ve not yet spoken to us, or anyone with information they feel could help, to get in touch.”
Suzanne Llewellyn, deputy chief crown prosecutor of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) West Midlands, said: “Following an incident in Birmingham city centre in the early hours of September 6 2020, the CPS has authorised West Midlands Police to charge Zephaniah McLeod with one count of murder and seven counts of attempted murder.
“This decision was made following careful consideration of the evidence presented to us by West Midlands Police as a result of their ongoing investigation.
“Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of the victims affected in this incident.”