A man has been arrested after a college stabbing left a student’s face covered in blood.
Terrified eyewitnesses described pandemonium at Belfast Metropolitan College, with bloodied steps and scenes of panic. One man ran through the sprawling city centre campus covered in blood.
The victim, 26, is in a serious but stable condition in hospital, police said, and the suspect was also treated for injuries. The incident took place in an area catering for those with special educational needs.
Maria McCann, 23, was in the premises at the time. She said: “It was terrible.”
A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokesman confirmed that a man aged 21 was arrested following a stabbing at the Millfield further education centre. A statement from the college said two students were involved.
Shocked students are receiving counselling.
Another pupil, 17-year-old Patrick McCaffery, said: “There was a lot of panic, especially around building two where it happened.
“Even though they evacuated half the building where it happened, on the top floor there were still a lot of people, you could see people freaking out, not knowing what was going on, it was just a case of trying to piece the pieces together.”
He added: “We saw one student coming out and his face was covered in blood, it was very distressing.”
“There were a number of students really upset and crying. Everyone was just in absolute shock, no-one ever expected that to happen.”
Belfast Met teaches a range of academic and vocational courses for those aged 16 and over. It attracts many mature students, those hoping to go to university as well as pupils who left school at 16. The college has several campuses throughout the city.
A college spokeswoman said the incident was unprecedented in the history of the college.
Principal Marie-Therese McGivern added: “This was clearly shocking and deeply upsetting for everyone involved.
“Our absolute priority is to provide our students, staff and the families concerned with the support they need as they seek to recover from what has been a traumatic ordeal.”
Counsellors were on site within 20 minutes of the incident and will remain available for as long as students and staff need them.
Student Peter Lavery told the BBC a man with a knife ran towards him.
“The cubicle opened, and the door came open really fast, you could see the guy on the floor, lying there, blood coming out of what seemed like his neck, because it seemed darker round that area.
“Then the guy who had the knife came running out towards us – I only saw a small type of knife – he came running out with blood all over his hands, so we just ran out of the toilets.
“It was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.”
The NUS-USI, a students’ representative body in the North, expressed sadness.
President Rebecca Hall said: “This is deeply tragic news. My thoughts are with the people that were injured in this incident, and I hope that they make a swift recovery.
“It’s extremely shocking and sad to hear that something like this has happened. Any students who feel that they need support in light of this incident should talk to staff at their students’ union.”