London riots: 6 shocking stories
The riots and looting that have unhinged England for the better part of a week have produced dozens of tales of loss, injury, and anxiety. But even so, several stories stand out as particularly tragic, outrageous, cruel, or even bizarre. Here are six:
1. London's "Samaritan" robbery
Malaysian student Mohammad Asyraf Haziq, 20, was bicycling to the grocery Monday evening when a mob knocked him down, stole his bike, and beat him, breaking his jaw. Then, a "Good Samaritan" helped the bleeding Haziq up, but opted to rifle through the victim's backpack, stealing a Sony PSP game console. (Watch the video.) The "shocking video" taken by an outraged onlooker "has come to embody the blatant lawlessness of the riots sweeping the U.K.," says Kenyon Wallace in The Toronto Star. At least there's a happy ending, says Luke Plunkett at Kokaku. Sony has pledged to give Haziq a new PSP and free games.
2. An attack on a 68-year-old "community hero"
Richard Mannington Bowes was trying to put out Dumpster fires in the London suburb of Ealing, and scolding young rioters for setting them, when attackers knocked him to the ground, fracturing his skull. As police fought their way to rescue the 68-year-old, rioters pelted them with projectiles. Mannington Bowes, hailed as a "community hero," is in critical condition.
3. Rioters stealing the clothes off people's backs
A photo that went viral on Twitter shows "the shocking depths the thugs were prepared to plumb — stealing the clothes from a man's back," says Britain's Daily Mail. The shot captures a shirtless man stripping off his pants, apparently at the behest of a thief, who waits, gripping the man's sneakers and t-shirt. Another photo shows a completely naked woman standing next to a cop, her clothes also apparently stolen.
4. A deliberate hit-and-run
Three Birmingham men who'd gathered to protect their property from looters were killed early Wednesday morning when men in a car ran them down. Witnesses said the car was going 50 miles per hour and didn't stop. Police are treating the deaths of the men — Haroon Jahan and brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Mussavir, ages 19 to 32 — as murder, and have one 32-year-old man in custody. "No way was it an accident," one witness tells Britain's Guardian. "The driver went on to the pavement and rammed them. He knew what he was doing."
5. A restaurant's frying-pan defense
Diners at the Michelin-rated Notting Hill restaurant The Ledbury were robbed by looters who knocked down the fancy restaurant's doors at 10:30 p.m. on Monday. But before the thieves could nab more than a few valuables, the kitchen staff counter-attacked with frying pans, rolling pins, and fry baskets, chasing the looters off. As relayed by food blogger Louise Yang — who had her wedding and engagement rings stolen — the staff then served the rattled guests champagne and whisky. And when they heard the looters were preparing to come back, the staff hid the diners in the bathroom, then the wine cellar. "Now that's service," says Zosia Bielski in Canada's The Globe and Mail.
6. A flame-engulfed leap
On Monday night, looters set fire to the South London building where Polish national Monika Konczylk, 32, was renting a second-story apartment. Trapped by dense smoke and showering embers, she was forced to jump out the window. She survived, but was badly shaken. "Konczylk's miracle jump may have become an iconic symbol of the nation's struggle against the rioters," says Don Mackay in Britain's Daily Mirror, but the woman herself has been left traumatized by her narrow escape from death.