The 87-year-old man stabbed to death in his mobility scooter has been named by police as Thomas O’Halloran. According to Mr O’Halloran's Facebook, he is originally from Ennistymon, Co Clare.
Mr O’Halloran was killed in a “shocking act” of “unprovoked violence”, Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson said at the scene in Greenford, west London.
Met officers and paramedics were called shortly after 4pm on Tuesday to Cayton Road, Greenford, to reports of a stabbing and he was declared dead at the scene.
A “dangerous” knife-wielding man was seen fleeing the scene of the fatal attack.
Back in Clare, Mr O'Halloran's local community have been left in "deep shock and sadness", Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway has said.
“The news of the brutal murder of Thomas O’Halloran has shocked the people of Ennistymon and North Clare," Senator Conway said.
"It is almost unbelievable, that a man of his age using an electronic mobility device, was targeted and murdered in broad daylight. It is truly shocking.
“I sincerely hope the perpetrators are brought to justice as soon as possible,” he added.
’Tommy’ as he was known to many, left Ennistymon for London 71 years ago but travelled home almost every year until about 10 years ago.
“He was a very popular man in the Greenford area of London where he regularly played music and often busked for charity. Most recently, he raised money for the Ukrainian community living in London.
“I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the O’Halloran family both in London and Ennistymon at this very difficult time for them,” Senator Conway said.
Detectives have released images of a man they say they want to identify as “a matter of urgency”.
He was armed with a knife and wearing grey shorts, a dark T-shirt, a white baseball cap and white patterned builder-style gloves.
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Eastwood, who is leading the investigation, said: “He is clearly a dangerous individual and people are advised not to approach him, but to call us immediately on 999 if they know him or have any information regarding his whereabouts.”
Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Mr Wilson said: “I understand that our community will quite rightly be shocked and appalled by this incident, as I am too.
“We are now able to name the man who has tragically lost his life as Mr Thomas O’Halloran, who lived in Greenford and was a very well-known and much-loved member of our community.
“We are appealing to anybody with dashcam or cycle-helmet footage that might have captured this incident to get into contact with us.
“We believe that Mr O’Halloran was stabbed in Western Avenue shortly before 4pm yesterday, Tuesday August 16, before managing to travel 75 yards or so on his mobility scooter to Runnymede Gardens where he flagged down a member of public for help.”
Mr Wilson said extra police will be patrolling the area for the coming days, adding: “I realise the dreadful impact that incidents like this have on our communities. I would like to reassure you all that we are doing all we can to solve the horrendous crimes that we have seen across London over the last few days.
“I stress that London remains one of the very safest cities in the world.
“I would like to finish by saying our thoughts and prayers remain with Thomas O’Halloran and his family.”
He was attacked while on his way to busk, according to a friend who did not want to be named.
He told the PA news agency: “He was coming back from Perivale to play his accordion and make some money for his family and he was stabbed to death.”
A man believed to be Mr O’Halloran plays the instrument in poignant YouTube footage uploaded in October 2020, captioned “a few songs on the accordion”.
Mr O’Halloran sports a cap and glasses in the video, saying “here we go, ready? wish me luck”, before he starts to play.
A man who works in a newsagents outside the station said: “He used to play his accordion here.
“He came every day for a long time, at least two years. He usually busked around five o’clock.”
Another shopkeeper said: “He was often outside the station playing his accordion.”
Frasley Coutinho, who lives opposite where the attack happened, said he saw the victim surrounded by a group of young boys.
He said: “I saw a couple of people gathering around him and then he drove past and stopped further up, and then there was a group of young boys around him.”
There have been 58 homicides in London so far this year.