United in their grief: Heartbreaking moment mothers and fathers of Nottingham attack victims, both 19, hug as they fight back tears at vigil – as city prepares to mourn victims of knife rampage later today
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United in grief after the inhumane and brutal murder of their children, this is the moment the parents of Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber embraced as they grapple with their unimaginable pain.
The heartbroken families of the students killed in the Nottingham atrocity broke down at a moving vigil where they gave an extraordinary message of hope to the thousands who gathered there and urged them to ‘look after each other.’
Emma Webber hugged Grace’s father, Dr Sanjoy Kumar, and Sinead O’Malley held Barnaby’s father David Webber as they were thrown together in the turmoil and trauma of Tuesday’s murderous rampage that robbed their children of a future.
Then amid scenes of high emotion, the fathers stood side by side to address the thousands who had turned up for a vigil in their honour. Another one will be held in the city this evening at 6pm.
Tears flowed as Dr Kumar spoke about how the two friends ‘fell together’ and urged the students gathered before him to ‘look after each other’, adding: ‘The love that we have out here, I just wish we had it everywhere. Love everyone’.
Next to him, Barnaby’s father David, who calls his son Barney, told the crowd that he couldn’t comprehend that he had lost ‘my baby boy’ – or how they would ever come to terms with it – and told his son’s many friends that ‘his heart will be with you guys forever.’
The mothers grieve together – Emma Webber pictured hugging Grace’s mother Sinead O’Malley
The parents of the two friends, both 19, embraced in emotional scenes at the university
The parents of student victims Barnaby and Grace hugging one another at the vigil
Grace O’Malley Kumar’s father Sanjoy (right) and Barnaby Webber’s father David (right) speak during a vigil at the University of Nottingham on Wednesday
Barnaby’s father, brother and mother (left) and Grace’s parents (right) at the vigil on Wednesday night
Barnaby Webber, a gifted cricketer who was in his first year of university, was one of two students killed in the early hours of Tuesday morning
Friend and youth England hockey star Grace O’Malley-Kumar was stabbed to death alongside her friend
Grace, 19, was walking home after a celebratory night out in the city to mark the end of exams with Barnaby, also 19, when the unnamed suspect, 31, is said to have stabbed the teenagers to death.
READ MORE: ‘We will all miss you so much’: Little girl’s heartbreaking letter thanking Nottingham knife rampage murder victim Ian Coates
He then went on to knife another victim, school caretaker Ian Coates, steal his van and use it to plough into three people in an horrific rampage.
Barnaby’s father David, who calls him Barney, told those gathered he has lost his ‘baby boy’ and that ‘his heart will be with you guys forever’, while Grace’s father Sanjoy thanked the students for showing their love and ‘bond’ with one another.
Speaking through tears, Mr Webber said: ‘I’ve lost my baby boy, and I can’t even comprehend how I’m going to deal with it… myself and Emma and Charlie and his family and friends.
‘Well I know Barney would be super touched by everyone that’s here.
‘He loved it. He loved it here. He couldn’t wait to come back. It drove me mad. His heart will be with you guys forever and thank you so much. I really can’t talk much more.’
Tributes to the students, both talented athletes, have poured in since they were stabbed to death as they walked home from a night out in Nottingham just after 4am on Tuesday, as well as the third victim of the violence, primary school caretaker Ian Coates, who was also remembered at the event.
Grace’s father told crowds at the University of Nottingham : ‘To everyone here, I really want to thank you for your support, for taking the time to be here.
‘All of you guys, everywhere I look I see a sea of people. Such a lovely sign of the university and the bond you have.
‘Grace was also like Barney, she loved coming up to Nottingham, in fact, we couldn’t get her down.
‘I said to her last week, ‘come down’, and she said, ‘well after I’ve had a few more sessions’ [nights out]. I used to call them her crisis meetings.
‘The love that we have out here I just wish that we had it everywhere.
‘Look after each other. Look after your friends, and look after people around you. It’s so important.
‘Grace and her friend they fell together and you just, you need to be friends with everyone and you need to love everyone, and I wish we had more of it.
But most of all, all of you guys, everyone here who Grace may not have even touched, I really thank you for being here and taking the time, I really do.
‘It means so much to Sinead, my wife and me. She loved being here and she loved all of you, she really did and you should all feel very blessed.
‘She was so full of her stories and things that she said about all of you. You all touched her life and therefore ours, you will never be forgotten by us.
‘We have children who were taken away prematurely from us, and that should never happen to any parent. But all I can say to all of you guys is thank you for the things you did for our daughter and Barney.’
Pictures from the scene on the University of Nottingham campus show thousands mourners from all walks of life huddled together holding flowers.
Teammates of both students were pictured at the vigil, as those who knew the young friends cried and embraced one another.
In heartbreaking scenes, Grace’s father Dr Sanjoy Kumar, who previously saved the lives of three teenagers who were stabbed in a gang attack near his surgery, was pictured hugging Barnaby’s brother, Charlie.
Addressing the huge crowd, Dr Kumar thanked everyone who had come to the event and said it was a ‘lovely sign of the university and the bond you have’
Dr Sanjoy Kumar and his wife Sinead have been pictured comforting one another
The families of Barnaby and Grace were pictured together
Teammates of Barnaby attend the vigil at the University of Nottingham on Wednesday
Grace O’Malley-Kumar’s team mates attend the vigil at the University of Nottingham
Students at Nottingham University held a vigil for students Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar
Grace O’Malley-Kumar, 19, was one of two University of Nottingham students who was stabbed to death while walking home after a night out at 4am on Tuesday
Grace O’Malley-Kumar pictured with her father Dr Sanjoy Kumar, mother Sinead and brother James
Grace has been a star for England’s young hockey programme having been selected on a national level for both the under-16s and under-18s squads
Barnaby Webber was a keen sports player who teammates described as ‘one of the nicest people they’d ever met’
Visibly emotional throughout the service Dr Kumar fought back the tears as he paid tribute to his daughter
Thousands of mourners have gathered on the campus
Grace Kumar’s father and Barnaby Webber’s brother, Charlie, embrace ahead of a vigil
The family of Barnaby Webber (left to right) father David Webber, brother Charlie Webber, and mother Emma Webber
Members of Grace’s hockey team paid their respects at the vigil on Wednesday night
Lee Coates (yellow top) and James Coates (white top), the sons of murdered school caretaker Ian Coates, visit the scene with other family members to lay flowers
Also killed in the attack was primary school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, whose van was also stolen and used to ram into three people shortly before the suspect was arrested.
He was stabbed to death in the early hours of yesterday some time after the same attacker fatally knifed 19-year-old students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar at 4am.
Nottinghamshire Police has referred itself to the police watchdog, the IOPC, after confirming that a marked police car followed the van for a short distance before it hit pedestrians.
A spokesperson for the IOPC said: ‘We have received a referral from Nottinghamshire Police informing us that a marked police car had been following behind the suspect’s van for a short distance at the time it collided with two pedestrians in the area of Sherwood Street in the city centre on Tuesday morning.
‘We are assessing the referral to decide what further action may be required of the IOPC.’
Mr Coates’ children James and Lee as well as brother Paul Coates have led tributes to the ‘beloved’ caretaker with Paul writing: ‘R.I.P Ian Coates, my brother. Ian had led a good life but Grace and Barnaby were just starting out.’
Paying tribute to his father, Lee told reporters: ‘If we had to think about it, he’d be lying in a bed with us holding his hand, him dying naturally in 20 to 30 years’ time.
‘Not dying on a street because some guy decided it’s not his day today,’ Lee’s brother James added.
Grace’s family released a tribute to MailOnline hailing her as a ‘truly wonderful and beautiful young lady’. They said she was adored by her parents and brother, who is ‘completely heartbroken’ by her death, and was ‘fulfilling her ambition to become a doctor’.
‘Grace was an adored daughter and sister, she was a truly wonderful and beautiful young lady,’ the family’s statement read.
‘Grace was not just a sister to James but his best friend. He is completely heartbroken. As parents, words cannot explain our complete and utter devastation. She will be so dearly missed.
‘We were so incredibly proud of Grace’s achievements and what a truly lovely person she was. She was resilient and wise beyond her years. Grace was so happy in life fulfilling her ambition of studying to become a doctor whilst playing topflight hockey at university.
‘She leaves behind devastated extended family and friends.’
It emerged that Grace’s father is hero doctor Dr Sanjoy Kumar, who saved the lives of three teenagers stabbed in a gang attack near his surgery in Chingford, east London, in 2009.
Ian Coates was stabbed to death in the early hours of yesterday some time after the same attacker fatally knifed two students
Mr Coates worked at Huntington Academy, a primary school in the city, and was described this morning as a ‘beloved and respected’ member of staff
Grace’s father is hero doctor Dr Sanjoy Kumar, who was awarded an MBE after he saved the lives of three teenagers stabbed in a gang attack
Grace was following in her father’s footsteps and studying medicine at university.
Read more: Heartbroken family of England hockey star student, 19, knifed to death in Nottingham reveal she ‘was studying to be a doctor’ – just like her hero father
In another moving speech, student union community officer Daisy Forster told the families ‘we will always be here when you need us’, saying that there are 38,000 students to support them.
Grant Walton, from the university chaplaincy, described the deaths as ‘one of those moments which we hoped we’d never encounter’ while the university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Shearer West, said the lives of the two 19-year-olds had been ‘curtailed’ by a ‘seemingly random’ act of violence.
Barnaby’s parents David and Emma Webber, and younger brother Charlie, additionally released a heartfelt statement, telling how the murdered student was ‘at the start of his journey into adulthood and was developing into a wonderful young man’.
They said: ‘Complete devastation is not enough to describe our pain and loss at the senseless murder of our son.
‘Barnaby Philip John Webber was a beautiful, brilliant, bright young man, with everything in life to look forward to.
‘A talented and passionate cricketer, who was over the moon to have made selection to his university cricket team.
‘At 19 he was just at the start of his journey into adulthood and was developing into a wonderful young man.
‘As parents we are enormously proud of everything he achieved and all the plans he had made.
‘His brother is bereft beyond belief, and at this time we ask for privacy as a family to be allowed time to process and grieve.
‘We will not be making any further statements, particularly in relation to the police investigation.
‘We are so proud to release these photographs, chosen by us as a family, of an amazing son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend.
‘Thank you for your understanding, and to everyone who has supported us in this awful journey so far.’
Barnaby’s family described him as a ‘beautiful, brilliant, bright young man, with everything in life to look forward to’
The vigil followed a series of tributes paid to the three victims of Tuesday’s attacks that also left another three people hurt, one critically, when they were run over by a van.
It comes as some students said they were living in fear after the murderous attacks.
One student claimed there is now an ‘unsafe feeling’ around the neighbourhood and said the thought this could happen to anyone at random is ‘terrifying really’.
Another argued it is ‘really scary’ that the attack was carried out in such a ‘busy part of the city’.
Heartbroken students told how they felt it important to come together and show their respects to Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar at a special vigil in their memory.
Thousands packed the University of Nottingham this afternoon to remember the 19-year-olds who were stabbed to death as they walked home from a night out during the early hours of yesterday.
Harry Menashe, 22, who is also a medical student, said: ‘Watching the two fathers pay tribute to their son and daughter really brought home the tragedy.
‘I read what happened on the news but to hear their fathers give such a personal message really resonated with me.
‘You don’t expect anything like this to happen when you go to university but if there is anything positive to take away from something so awful, it’s that students have really come together to look after each other and remember Barney and Grace.’
Anissa Yiannkou, 21, studying psychology, was friends with Barnaby.
She said: ‘He was a lovely, lovely guy. Always smiling. Nobody had a bad word to say about him.
‘I thought his father and Grace’s father were absolutely incredible, I thought their words were so poignant. For me that was the most emotional moment. I broke down in tears.
‘I’m glad they got to see how much their son and daughter were loved by people here at the uni. I think they really appreciated it.’
Bilal Alvi, 21, who is studying geography, added: ‘It was important to show our respects for those killed yesterday, not just Barney and Grace but also Ian Coates.
‘What happened is heartbreaking. I don’t like thinking about it especially as it happened somewhere many of us know so well.
‘But we’ve really come together as a university to look out for each other and it’s helped with some of the tension.
‘There’s still a very damp atmosphere around campus, though, people are in shock and a little scared, even if what happened was a freak occurrence.
‘I was supposed to be going to the graduation ball last night but it was cancelled and to be honest I don’t think I’d have gone anyway as it wouldn’t have felt right.’
The University of Nottingham men’s cricket team has also paid tribute to ‘incredible’ Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar.
The team’s 1s team are to play their final British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS) game in memory of both victims of the Nottingham incident, where they and their opponents will wear black tape to pay their respects, with a two-minute silence also observed beforehand.
Ollie Chaplin, who plays on the team and said both Barnaby and Grace were his friends, said before the game: ‘No words can be used to describe them, they were incredible people.
‘Barney, I think we can agree for those who knew him was one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
‘He went down to Exeter with me on a little trip, didn’t really know anyone at the club and just threw himself into it with a smile on his face.”
Speaking about Grace, he said: ‘She was one of my best friends. I can’t describe how much I’m going to miss her.’
The Nottingham University graduation ball scheduled for yesterday evening was cancelled, with many students gathering instead to light candles for the victims during a vigil at St. Peter’s Church.
The vigil was attended by hundreds of people paying their respects to the victims.
During the service, attended by mainly students from both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, those present were invited to place flowers below the altar or light a candle.
Hundreds of young people were among those to pay their respects, many of whom were emotional
People comfort one another at a vigil in Nottingham yesterday after the death of Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and a man in his 50s
Students attend a vigil in Nottingham for the two 19-year-olds and man in his 50s who were killed on Tuesday
Candles are lit and flowers laid at St Peters’ Church in memory of the victims of the attacks
Meanwhile, friends and family are remembering the two younger victims as talented athletes with a passion for life.
Mr Webber’s parents and brother said he was ‘a beautiful, brilliant, bright young man, with everything in life to look forward to.’
‘A talented and passionate cricketer, who was over the moon to have made selection to his university cricket team,’ the family, from Taunton in southwest England, said in a statement.
‘Complete devastation is not enough to describe our pain and loss at the senseless murder of our son.’
Ms O’Malley-Kumar also played cricket and had played field hockey for England youth teams.
Woodford Wells Cricket Club near London said she was ‘a fiercely competitive, talented and dedicated cricketer and hockey player’ who was ‘fun, friendly and brilliant.’
Speaking to MailOnline, students in Nottingham told how the attack has made them fearful.
Isis Hunterman, 19, a first-year law student from Hounslow, West London, is staying in Nottingham for the summer for work but is now fearful of going out with friends and so taking extra precautions.
She said: ‘I think everyone’s feeling worried, myself, my flatmates, all of us, because what happened could have happened to any of us.
Barnaby Webber’s family today described him as a ‘beautiful, brilliant, bright young man, with everything in life to look forward to’
Barnaby with his younger brother Charlie. His family told of their fury at his ‘senseless murder’
‘I’ve walked down Ilkeston Road plenty of times late at night and was there only a few days ago.
‘The university has largely finished for the summer but a few of us, myself included, are staying here for work and to continue with internships.
‘But I’m really fearful about going out at the moment. I work part-time at a Sainsbury’s on the other side of Nottingham and to get there I need two buses.
‘But after what happened yesterday, I’m now getting cabs everywhere and when I do go out I share my location with friends so people know where I am at all times.’
Arun Kumar, 25, studying a masters degree in electronic engineering, said his family had been in contact from Bahrain after seeing the tragedy unfold in Nottingham on the news.
He said: ‘my parents called me yesterday and asked me to come home, they are really worried about me staying in Nottingham.
‘I’m a little scared as well because the two students were killed so close to where I live – in an area I thought I knew quite well.
‘Nottingham is a beautiful city and I’ve been here since September and had no problems but something like this happens and you start to wonder.
‘I’m going to travel back to Bahrain. My parents will feel a lot better.’
Many of the young people at a vigil for those caught up and killed in the attacks were emotional at St Peter’s church in Nottingham on Tuesday evening
A vigil at Nottingham’s St Peter’s Church, in the city centre, was attended by hundreds of people paying their respects to those who died and those injured
Isis Hunterman, 19, (pictured) a first-year law student from Hounslow, West London, is staying in Nottingham for the summer for work but is now fearful of going out with friends and so taking extra precautions
Arun Kumar, 25, (pictured) studying a masters degree in electronic engineering, said his family had been in contact from Bahrain after seeing the tragedy unfold in Nottingham on the news
Amelia Haxby, 19, (pictured) who is studying nutrition and dietetics, said: ‘I was supposed to be going back home to Doncaster next month, but my parents called yesterday and wanted me to come back now
Lily Janes, 18, who is studying nursing, said she too was scared.
She added: ‘I do worry because my residential block doesn’t have security.
‘I was supposed to go out tonight to an event they have in Nottingham every Wednesday called Crisis. But I’m not going now.
‘My mum and dad back in Manchester are worried and have sent me some money to get Ubers everywhere so I don’t walk anywhere but I don’t want to risk going out at night – particularly at the moment – and I’m staying in.’
A source at the University of Nottingham said the city would become like a ‘ghost town’ in the coming days as fearful students return home early for summer.
Police are working to piece together details of the attack which saw Mr Webber and Ms O’Malley-Kumar stabbed to death in a street near student housing before dawn yesterday.
A specialist Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officer on patrol on Ilkeston Road in Nottingham on Tuesday
Grace, a high-flying hockey player, is understood to be from north-east London
Barnaby (right) had travelled home from Nottingham only last month to play cricket for a local club, Bishops Hull
Officers say the suspect also killed a man in his 50s more than a mile away, stole his van and ran down a group of pedestrians. Three people were hurt, one critically, in the hit-and-run.
The slain owner of the van was Ian Coates, a school caretaker. His employer said he was a ‘beloved and respected’ staff member at a Nottingham primary school.
Police subdued the suspect with a stun gun nearby and detained him on suspicion of murder. Police said they believe the attacker acted alone and were working with counter-terrorism officers to try to establish a motive.
The attack has not been labelled terrorism by the authorities, and police are investigating issues including the suspect’s mental health.
The suspect, whose name has not been released, is reportedly originally from West Africa and has lived legally in Britain for many years. It is understood that he did not have a criminal record.
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