The Labour MP Jo Cox has died after being shot in an attack in her constituency near Leeds.
An eyewitness said the 41-year-old mother of two – who was among a few dozen MPs to have nominated Jeremy Corbyn in last year’s labour leadership contest – was left lying bleeding on the pavement after the incident in Birstall, West Yorkshire.
She was initially reported to be in a critical condition. At about 5pm, news emerged that she had died.
Eyewitness Hichem Ben Abdallah said: “He was kicking her as she was lying on the floor.”
He said that after a bystander intervened, the attacker produced a gun, stepped back and shot her twice.
West Yorkshire Police said a 52-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the attack, which happened near the town’s library, where the MP holds her advice surgeries.
Mr Abdallah, 56, was in the cafe next door to the library when he heard screaming and went outside.
He told the Press Association: “There was a guy who was being very brave and another guy with a white baseball cap who he was trying to control and the man in the baseball cap suddenly pulled a gun from his bag.”
He added: “He was fighting with her and wrestling with her and then the gun went off twice and then she fell between two cars and I came and saw her bleeding on the floor.”
After around 15 minutes, the shop owner said emergency services arrived and tended to her with a drip.
Ms Cox’s assistant confirmed she had been attacked and said he was trying to get more information from police at the scene.
Mr Abdallah said the weapon looked handmade and that the man who had been wrestling with the assailant continued to do so even after he saw the gun.
He said: “The man stepped back with the gun and fired it and then he fired a second shot, as he was firing he was looking down at the ground.”
A police spokesman said: “At 12.53 today, police were called to a report of an incident on Market Street, Birstall, where a woman in her 40s had suffered serious injuries and is in a critical condition.
“A man in his late 40s to early 50s nearby also suffered slight injuries.
“Armed officers attended and a 52-year-old man was arrested in the area. There are no further details at present.
“Police presence in the area has been increased as a reassurance to the community.”
Ms Cox was elected to the seat of Batley and Spen at the last general election in 2015.
Whilst she had initially nominated Mr Corbyn for the top party post, she wrote in The Guardian last month (alongside colleague Neil Coyle) to say: “We both nominated Corbyn for leader last year.
“We have never had cause to doubt his commitment to society’s most disadvantaged and to Labour’s values – a commitment we all share. But we have come to regret that decision.”
She had favoured remaining in the EU.
The whole incident lasted about 15 to 20 minutes,
Mr Abdallah said and another bystander told him she had also been stabbed.
He added: “He was kicking her and he was pulling her by her hair. A very courageous man from the dry cleaners tried to restrain him and he couldn’t stop him because all of a sudden he pulled a gun.
“She was a standing still target for him when he shot her.”
Campaigning for the EU referendum by Britain Stronger in Europe and Vote Leave has been suspended for the day after the attack on Ms Cox.
Aamir Tahir, of The Dry Clean Centre, said the gunman was heard shouting “Britain first”.
He said: “The lady I work with heard two loud bangs but I wasn’t there, I was stuck in traffic at the time.
“I wish I was there because I would have tried to stop him.
“The whole street thinks it was me but it wasn’t.
“Apparently the guy who did it shouted ‘Britain first’ and if I had been there I would have tackled him.”
Another eyewitness, Clarke Rothwell who runs a nearby cafe, told the BBC he believed the MP had been shot and stabbed multiple times.
He said: “Three times she was shot, the initial time which then she dropped to the floor and two more times. The third time he got close proximity he shot her round the head area.”
He added: “In the meantime he was stabbing her as well, he was stabbing her with his knife.”
Mr Rothwell said there was blood everywhere at the scene.
Asked if he thought Ms Cox had intervened in a dispute he said he understood the altercation was “always between the guy carrying the gun and the lady that got shot”.