BIRSTALL – Police have confirmed that a 52-year-old man was arrested following the fatal gun attack on Labour MP Jo Cox in her West Yorkshire constituency.
Left: Forensics officers search a house in Birstall understood to be the home of the man, named locally as Thomas Mair, arrested after the attack on Jo Cox. Right: Thomas Mair pictured in 2010.
An image of police arresting the alleged assailant, said to have come from a Snapchat video of the scene, has been circulating on social media.
Police have not yet confirmed the man's identity, but he has been named locally as Thomas "Tommy" Mair.
A semi-detached house on the Fieldhead estate in Birstall was cordoned off with police tape and being searched by forensics officers after the shooting on Thursday afternoon. According to the electoral roll, the house is registered to a Thomas Mair, aged 52.
Neighbours described Mair as a "quiet loner" who "kept himself clear of us".
One told BuzzFeed News: "I've lived here 15 years and never seen anything like this round here. The police are outside and have cordoned off the street. He was a quiet lad who kept himself to himself. He didn't have a job, because we'd see him sitting in his front garden and would say hello. He didn't have any Brexit signs up and there hasn't really been any major debate about it round here. This is just a quiet street where most of us keep ourselves to ourselves."
Several mothers said he was "aggressive" towards children, and if a children's ball would fall into his garden, he'd come out and spike it so it deflated.
Further up the road from the suspect's house, Katie Evans, 33, a mother of four, knew of him only by appearance.
She said: "He'd leave his home every day around 9.30, and come back in the afternoon, carrying two Lidl bags, every day, like clockwork. He'd always wear a cap, and barely ever wore a coat, even when it was colder, except his army jacket every so often. He'd chase my kids off – the kids around here all knew who he was, they'd play every day outside the garages that are behind his house."
Another neighbour told the Press Association: "We've known him quite a lot of years. I've known him since I was young. He lived with his grandmother in that house, she died a few years ago. He was a bit of a loner. It's a bit of a shock – he did everyone's gardens.
"I can't say a wrong word about him, he was so quiet. It's come as a shock to everybody."
Another local resident, Kathleen Cooke, 62, said she was "really shocked" by the news.
"He walked past my house this morning and said hello like he always does," she told The Telegraph. "He was wearing a grey T-shirt and his white baseball cap like he always does and he was carrying a small rucksack.
"He is just a quiet bloke who keeps himself to himself."
A report from 2010 in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner quoted a 46-year-old with the same name who was volunteering at a park in Batley to help with his mental health problems.
He told the newspaper: "I can honestly say it has done me more good than all the psychotherapy and medication in the world. Many people who suffer from mental illness are socially isolated and disconnected from society, feelings of worthlessness are also common mainly caused by long-term unemployment."
Eyewitnesses have said that Cox's attacker shouted "Britain first" – the name of a far-right political party – during the attack, though this remains unconfirmed by police. The group has denied any link to the attack.
A man with the same name from the same area of Batley was also named online as a past subscriber to a pro-white South African magazine.
The magazine in question has issued a statement confirming that he appeared to be a subscriber back in the 1980s, but said his subscription was not renewed and that those involved in the publication had never met him.
It has been reported that Mair was brought up by his maternal grandmother Helen Mair, who died in 1996. After her death he lived on his own in the house they shared, at an address close to the scene of the shooting.
Mair's half-brother Duane St Louis has spoken to the media. He lived with Mair's mother Mary and his brother Scott, who was born, along with Tommy, by the same father from Mary's previous relationship.
He told The Mirror that Mair had not expressed any racist tendencies: "I am mixed race and I am his half-brother, we are in regular touch and see each other at my mum's." He said that Mair had obsessive compulsive disorder and worked several days a week with disabled children at a school in Dewsbury.
"Mum saw him on Wednesday night, at about 7pm," he added. "He went around to tune in her TV for her. She said he was absolutely fine, we are all in shock. We cannot understand what could drive him to do anything like this."
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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