A bar worker has described how people in Birmingham’s Gay Village community have “everyone’s backs” following a stabbing attack in the area.
Liv Lewis, 19, a supervisor at The Village Inn, was on duty on Saturday night, when one person was killed and seven others injured in the attack.
Ms Lewis said it “didn’t feel real” at the time but the wider community was very “protective” of one another.
A 27-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
The attacker first struck more than a mile away in Constitution Hill, before moving through the city centre on to Livery Street, Irving Street – where Jacob Billington, 23, was killed – and finally to Hurst Street, the location of The Village Inn. The first call to police was at just after 00:30 BST and officers were called to Hurst Street at about 02:00.
Ms Lewis, who lives in Bournville, said the bar was very busy on the night and there was a “really strange atmosphere”. She said the staff were all “relieved” to have made it through the shift.
After the venue had closed for the night, at about 01:30 BST, a manager told the staff someone had been assaulted with a knife.
“The manager’s started pulling all the blinds down,” she said.
“They said someone’s been stabbed in the chest and someone’s been knifed in the neck. We were all shocked, we didn’t know what to do.”
The 19-year-old said they could all hear “police cars and helicopters” and were told to stay inside the bar.
Eventually, they were allowed home and a manager escorted them out.
“It was really scary, when we heard the next day someone had died… it didn’t feel real at the time.
“Everyone in the WhatsApp group was saying they were more shaken in the morning.
“It was more real the next day, especially when your phone fills up with notifications from staff, the stuff on the news, videos of the suspects.
“You hear stories like that all the time but didn’t think it’ll happen to you.”
She said: “In the Gay Village, everyone is so happy, it’s such a community, you’d never expect anything like that.
“We’ve got security on all the doors, everyone’s really got everyone else’s backs… everyone is very protective.
“The village as whole, you don’t see fights, everyone is nice to everyone.”
‘Always on edge’
The manager of Southside Business Improvement District initiative, Julia Robinson, said traders were “in shock” after the stabbings.
Ms Lewis commended the work of the group, saying it always sorted out any problems.
But she said she would no longer feel safe walking home alone or want any of her friends to do the same.
“I think I’ll always be on edge now,” she said.
And she was also worried about people who were asked to leave the venue for being too drunk, wondering “what if they’d got themselves in that [the stabbings] situation?”.
“We’re all waiting to find out exactly who everyone is that’s been hurt,” she said, “so we can stop worrying.”