Busker, 87, stabbed to death on mobility scooter while ‘surrounded by youths’ pictured
The first photo of a “lovely” elderly accordion player who was stabbed to death while reportedly surrounded by a gang of youths has been released.
Thomas O’Halloran, 87, was attacked on a street in Greenford, west London yesterday afternoon.
He was pronounced dead at the scene and no arrests have been made.
Detectives today shared pictures of a knifeman who they want to identify “as a matter of urgency”.
He was wearing grey shorts, a dark coloured t-shirt, a white baseball cap and white patterned builder style gloves.
Thomas, who posted videos of himself playing the accordion and harmonica, was well-known in the area for busking outside the local Tube station and Tesco store.
Members of the community took to social media to share their fond memories of him, describing him as a “lovely” man who “helped everyone he could”.
Kind Thomas had been playing his accordion to raise money for Ukraine outside a Tesco superstore a mile from where he was stabbed, store staff told the Mirror.
He kept the money he raised in a yellow box on his scooter, a Tesco security guard said.
The same security guard claimed that he recognised the man pictured by police fleeing the scene as a local shoplifter who allegedly attempted to pinch from the store before.
“He wasn’t in the store yesterday but the old man was playing, he plays outside here every afternoon,” he said.
“I think the man will have followed or chased Thomas. He was raising quite a lot of money.”
Worker Michelle Knight also told the Mirror: “He was always outside the big Tesco with his accordion. He was lovely and talked to everyone.
“It’s incredibly sad.”
Paying tribute on social media, resident Simone wrote: “The lovely old man was a regular musician player at Greenford station for commuters. Such a sad day it’s unreal.”
She continued: “I loved hearing him play as I walked out the station of an event from work. I pray for his family.”
Another local tweeted: “He was the sweetest guy ever.”
And a third wrote: “He lives on my road and we always used to chat for ages. I just broke down crying.”
A fourth person said he lived across the road from them and carried out many DIY jobs.
Another, who said he used to play outside a Tesco store, commented: “So shocking.”
Hitesh Patel, a shop owner at Greenford Station, said he would play his accordion to raise funds for those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He told the Evening Standard: “He always had a Ukraine flag on the front of his basket. It said Help for Ukraine as he played. He was very good, kind man.
“I saw him just before he was killed heading up to the A40 on his scooter I was filling up with petrol but I wish I had said something.”
Frasley Coutinho, who lives opposite the scene, 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.”
Mr Coutinho said he caught some of the incident on a CCTV camera but it was obscured by a plant.
“I had a rose plant blocking it so I couldn’t see any more,” he said.
Speaking today, Western Area commander Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson said Thomas had his life “snatched away” in an act of “unprovoked violence”.
“He was a very well known and much-loved member of our community.
“Detectives have been working tirelessly over the last 20 hours to understand what has happened and to identify who was responsible for this horrific crime.”
He earlier said during a press briefing: “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.
“My thoughts very much remain with Mr O’Halloran’s family and friends today.
“I’d also like to appeal for their privacy to be respected while they come to terms with their loss.”
He added: “As of now, the public will see extra officers patrolling the area over the coming days. They are there to protect you and to help you.
“If you have any concerns or information that you want to share, please approach those officers.
“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.
“However, we do need your help and so please come forward with any information that you have about this awful incident or any other violent crimes.”
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Eastwood, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are keen to identify the man in the CCTV images as a matter of urgency.
“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.
“My team and I have been working around the clock to bring Mr O’Halloran’s killer to justice, but we need your help. If you have any information at all that will assist us with our investigation – no matter how small – please contact us or alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously.
“I’d also appeal to anyone who might have dash cam or cycle helmet footage that might have captured the incident to get in touch with us.”
Police believe Thomas was stabbed in Western Avenue, Greenford, shortly after 4pm, before managing to travel around 75 yards on his mobility scooter to Runnymede Gardens where he flagged down a member of public for help.
Images from the scene had shown the cordon, as well as the man’s mobility scooter and emergency staff and vehicles.
A witness yesterday told the Mirror the scene was “chaos” as police went door to door gathering information.
He said: “There was about eight or 10 coppers all milling around outside a house.
“There were coppers going door to door on the other side of the dual carriageway.
“There was coppers in the shops round the corner, a hell of a lot of coppers everywhere.”
He went on to say the footbridge going over the A40 had been shut off, adding: “It’s pretty horrendous.”
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Eastwood from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command said: “My officers are working to understand what has happened to this man, and we need the public’s assistance.
“I’m asking for anyone with dash cam or cycle helmet footage to contact us if they were using the Western Avenue A40 Eastbound in the proximity of Cayton Road and Welland Gardens between 15:15hrs and 16:15hrs.
“The elderly victim, who was riding a mobility scooter, was in the area at the time. If you saw the victim, or captured anyone acting suspiciously in the area, it is imperative that you make contact.”