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A teenager has admitted killing an American woman and wounding five other people in a string of random stabbings in London.
Zakaria Bulhan, 19, pleaded guilty at London’s Central Criminal Court to manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. Darlene Horton, 64, of Tallahassee, Florida, was killed in the August 2016 attack.
At Monday’s hearing, Bulhan also admitted five counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. “Without warning or provocation, the man stabbed six people in quick succession, saying nothing to any of them, moving on after each stabbing towards his next victim,” prosecutor Mark Heywood said.
Bulhan had been due to stand trial on one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.
“We have considered expert evidence from both prosecution and defense psychiatrists who have concluded that Bulhan was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and experiencing a psychotic episode at the time. For that reason, we have agreed to accept Bulhan’s guilty plea to manslaughter based on his diminished responsibility,” the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement.
Police said Bulhan is a Norwegian national of Somali origin. Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service said he had emigrated from Norway in 2002.
The attack sparked a major police operation and initially there were fears that it might be linked to terrorism. That was found not to be the case, but Bulhan still poses a significant threat to the public, police said.
“He clearly poses an enormous risk to the general public and I hope he can now get the help he needs,” police Detective Inspector Tony Lynes said in a statement.
Horton had arrived in the UK in June. Her husband, Florida State University psychology professor Richard Wagner, was teaching a summer session in London.
The couple had been out for dinner and were heading back home when the stabbings happened.
Officers arrived just six minutes after the first emergency calls and used a stun gun on Bulhan, authorities said.
The stabbings happened in Russell Square, in busy Bloomsbury district of west-central London, near the British Museum.The incident rattled the city and came just hours after authorities announced an increased police presence there following recent terrorist attacks across Europe.
A sentencing hearing for Bulhan began Monday and will continue Tuesday.
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