Twenty-two-year-old engineer David Copeland has been charged with killing three people and wounding 115 in a series of bombings that targeted minorities and gays in London.
The first bomb exploded on April 17 in the Brixton area of south London, which has a large Afro-Caribbean community. Thirty-nine people were injured in the Brixton blast. The second bombing injured 7 people and took place one week later in east London’s Brick Lane neighborhood, which is largely populated by Bangladeshis.
The third and most severe attack occurred early last Friday evening at the Admiral Duncan, a gay pub near London’s theatre district in Soho. Three patrons, including pregnant 27-year-old Andrea Dykes and 35-year-old John Light, were killed, and more than 70 were injured. The third murder victim has not yet been named. Nineteen of those injured remain hospitalized after suffering massive injuries including limb amputations and severe burns.
The neo-Nazi organization Combat 18 claimed responsibility for the Brixton and Brick Lane blasts, and a radical white supremacist group called The White Wolves claimed that it was behind last Friday’s bombing. Police believe that both of these confessions were hoaxes, and that Copeland, who has no known ties to either group, carried out the bombings alone.
Police arrested Copeland after receiving an anonymous phone tip and after identifying him on closed-circuit TV tapes that showed him at the scene of the Brixton bombing. Witnesses in the pub bombing also reported seeing a man who resembled Copeland leave a bag in the bar shortly before the explosion.
Prime Minister Tony Blair commented on the recent bombings, saying, “The only good that can come out of these nail bombs is that they spur all of us, whatever race, age, creed or sexuality, to work harder to build the one nation Britain that the decent majority want, and to bring our community closer together.”