When murderers with machine-guns drive through the streets of Paris, or murderers with 12 inch knives stalk through the streets of London, who are those most likely to fall victim to them?
Why, those who are out on the streets, of course. And some of those are people who are using the streets for their proper purpose, which is to walk from one place to another. But others are only there because they were forced by law out onto the streets. The former are usually walking in one direction or other. And the latter are usually standing or sitting still. And, thanks to the ban on smoking indoors in public places, the latter are very often smoking.
And which are the easiest targets for the assassins?
Why, those who are sitting or standing outside, of course. It’s always easier to hit a sitting target than a moving target. A murderer with a dagger will be able to strike one blow at someone walking past him, maybe two. But the same murderer will be able to rain down a succession of blows on a sitting or standing target, before the victim is able to escape, if he or she is able to escape at all.
And so when killers armed with knives stalked through the streets of London last Saturday night, we must expect to find that, while they may have slashed or stabbed a great many passers-by, they launched their most lethal attacks on those smokers they encountered on their rampage, and on whom they rained a succession of blows.
And so (H/T Fredrik Eich) it should come as no surprise whatsoever that one of their first victims was James McMullan (right), who was drinking in the Barrowboy and Banker – celebrating the £1 million deal he’d just done to launch the educational software he’d been working on for three years -, and had just stepped out onto the street to smoke a cigarette.
He was probably standing there when a van ploughed through pedestrians walking across London bridge, a few yards up the road from where he stood (he would have been standing, because there was nowhere to sit outside the Barrowboy and Banker). He was probably facing the bridge, from which terrified people were streaming towards him, as the van drove past him, and pulled into the pavement at the pedestrian crossing at the lights at the end of the pub.
The first fugitives from the bridge were probably approaching when the murderers jumped out of the van, and ran up behind him, and stabbed him in his back, and most likely slashed his throat. He probably never knew what hit him.
Nicola, who had to be consoled by a friend as she burst into tears this morning, explained: “During the silence I was looking at the pub and was imagining James standing out there having a cigarette.
“That’s all he was doing, having a cigarette, and then this horrible, horrible thing happened.
But for the smoking ban that forced him out onto the street, James McMullen would have been alive today.
The murderers then met the fugitives streaming off the bridge towards them, and began stabbing them as they passed. This may well have been part of their plan.
And then the killers moved along what was almost certainly a pre-planned route that took them past a number of busy pubs and restaurants, outside which could be found more sitting-duck smokers.
The length of this journey is about 330 metres. Walking briskly at 2.5 metres/second, the three killers would have reached the Black and Blue restaurant, 200 metres from the Barrowboy and Banker, in just 80 seconds.
Inside the restaurant they seem to have encountered their first piece of determined resistance from Roy Larner, a Millwall fan (Millwall fans are renowned football hooligans), who received about 7 knife wounds as he fought with the terrorists while other customers fled out of the back of the restaurant (miraculously, he survived). Another hero, Ignacio Echeverria, died nearby while defending a woman with his skateboard.
The killers probably moved more slowly over the next few minutes, slashing and stabbing, firstly to the Market Porter pub, and then the Wheatsheaf and the Southwark Tavern, and finally the Sheaf, where police shot them dead. Outside all these pubs there were probably a number of smokers, as oblivious as James McMullen to what was happening around them.
Today, for the first time, what seems to be a full list of the fatalities has been published in Metro. It seems that most of them took place on or near London bridge. But the Metro report neglects to mention that James McMullen was smoking. It neglected to mention the fact in an earlier report as well.
It’ll probably never be known how many of the 8 dead and 40+ injured people were smokers. But the smoking ban pushes a lot more sitting targets onto the streets for terrorists to attack. James McMullen was probably just one of many.