A pro-life British lawmaker is dead after police said he was stabbed multiple times Friday during a public meeting in Leigh-on-Sea, England.
Sky News reports Sir David Amess, a Conservative MP who represents Southend West in Essex and is considered a champion of unborn children, was stabbed with a knife multiple times while he was holding a constituency meeting at Belfairs Methodist Church.
Amess, 69, died at the church a short time later while being treated by emergency services, according to Essex Police.
Police said they arrested a 25-year-old man at the scene and recovered a knife. They did not release the man’s name or a possible motive yet, but they said they do not believe anyone else was involved.
British pro-life groups mourned Amess’s death, praising him as a champion for life and religious freedom in Parliament.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) expressed horror at the news of his murder.
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“Sir David was a great friend of SPUC and staunch defender of the dignity of every human life. Let us remember Sir David and all that he did in trying to restore a culture of life in the United Kingdom,” the pro-life organization wrote.
Right to Life UK also recognized Amess as a champion for life, noting his kind, jovial personality and his genuine devotion to caring for the most vulnerable in society.
“We have had the honour of working with Sir David over the years across a number of issues and he was a passionate and dedicated patron of our charity,” said Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK. “Since he was elected in 1983, he always, where possible, used his position as an MP to stand up for the vulnerable, including championing initiatives to introduce more protections for unborn babies and more support for women facing crisis pregnancies.”
March for Life UK mourned the violence as well, writing: “We are terribly sad to hear the news and forever grateful for the work of David Amess MP for the pro-life cause. May he rest in peace and all our prayers to his family during this difficult moment.”
“He has been a pro-life voice and a defender of the faith in parliament. Prayers also to his family,” the organization continued.
Amess was well known for his conservative, pro-life beliefs. The BBC described him as a devout Roman Catholic and “a prominent campaigner against abortion.” Others praised him for being a “great champion for better maternity services” and an advocate for children with disabilities.
The Telegraph reports more about what happened Friday:
John Lamb, a Conservative councillor who rushed to the church when he heard what had happened, said: “He was doing a surgery (public meeting with constituents) in the Methodist church here to speak to local people and pick up on their problems.
“I’m told that when he went in for his surgery there were people waiting to see him, and one of them literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him.
“He was with a female member of staff from his constituency office and another female member of staff from his Parliamentary office.”
Lee Jordison, who works at one of the nearby businesses, said they saw a woman come out of the church screaming into her phone, “Someone’s been stabbed. Please get here soon. He’s not breathing.”
“There was a lot of talk at the church that it was [Sir David] and plenty of people had seen him saying hello to people outside the church 20 minutes before,” Jordison told the Telegraph.
Amess was a husband and father to five children.