Police investigating a corrosive alkaline substance attack which left a toddler and her mother with potentially life-changing injuries have named the suspect as Abdul Ezedi.
The 35-year-old alleged attacker, from the Newcastle area, was described by Metropolitan Police Superintendent Gabriel Cameron as having “significant injuries to the right side of his face” following the incident in south London on Wednesday.
A 31-year-old woman, who is believed to be known to Ezedi, and her three-year-old daughter, alongside her other daughter, aged eight, remain in hospital in a stable condition.
A manhunt is under way for the “dangerous” suspect after he also allegedly threw the younger child to the ground in the attack in Lessar Avenue, near Clapham Common, at about 7.25pm.
Police said in his attempt to drive away from the scene, the attacker crashed into a stationary vehicle and made off on foot.
Mr Cameron said the force was working in collaboration with Northumbria Police as Ezedi “could be going back” to Newcastle.
The officer urged the public not to approach Ezedi, after the Met previously described him as a “dangerous individual”.
Mr Cameron told reporters: “We will catch him, I’m wholeheartedly confident.”
Ezedi is believed to have travelled down from Newcastle on the day of the attack, but detectives are currently unsure what led to the incident.
The officer said: “The male was last seen in the north London area – Caledonian Road – and if you see him… I plea for you not to approach him, call 999.”
Mr Cameron said Ezedi may have been known to police previously.
He said: “At this stage I believe he may have been known to police, but he’s not a local resident from London as far as I’m aware. He’s come down from Newcastle.”
Mr Cameron added that it was a “horrific crime” against a “vulnerable female”.
The suspect is believed to have used a corrosive alkaline substance, but the officer said he did not know if it was a household product that was used.
Products such as bleach and oven cleaner are alkaline substances.
Three members of the public who came to the aid of the family, two in their 30s and one in her 50s, have all been discharged from hospital with minor burns injuries.
The force said five officers who responded to the incident have also been treated and have now left hospital.
One witness to the attack, bus driver Shannon Christi, told the PA news agency she was affected by the substance while trying to help the woman and two children outside her home.
She said: “I heard a bang and I heard someone saying ‘help’.
“I run outside and as I run outside I’ve seen this guy throwing a child on the floor, he picked her up and threw her again.
“So at that point I ran in and I grabbed her and took her into my block.”
Ms Christi said the three-year-old girl she had helped was crying and did not give her name, meanwhile the older child stood outside her block of flats and was also in tears.
She added: “I’ve then seen her mum walking up the road again saying ‘I can’t see, I can’t see’.
“I shouted for my partner and he had run down the road trying to chase the man.”
Ms Christi said she went to wash her own arms and face after staff at the Clapham South Belvedere Hotel took the child inside.
She continued: “I’ve done that but my lips were still tingling, kept burning, kept tingling, so I sat in the ambulance for a bit and then they took me to hospital.
“It all happened so fast.”
As well as the 11 people taken to hospital, a man in his 50s, who also helped, declined hospital treatment for minor injuries, police said.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley described the incident as a “ghastly attack”.
He told the BBC: “Fortunately, attacks using acid and chemicals are exceedingly rare. We did have a spate of them two or three years ago, you might remember.
“It’s not something we’ve seen much of at all recently, I’m pleased to say.”
In a statement, the Clapham South Belvedere Hotel said: “At 7.25pm last night, police and ambulance services were called to attend on a serious incident in which guests at the Belvedere Hotel were a victim.
“Belvedere Hotel staff, having supported the work of the emergency services, have provided assistance to the guests affected and sought to reassure other hotel guests as to their safety and wellbeing.
“The staff team will continue to provide assistance to guests and the police going forward.”
Police in England and Wales recorded 472 violent and robbery offences involving a corrosive substance in the year to March 2023, the latest available figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
There were 525 recorded in the previous 12-month period.
The data is published annually and only dates back to March 2020, when current records began.
The Home Office started collecting data on some offences involving corrosive substances from April 2019 as part of a government pledge to tackle such attacks.
The figures to March 2023 exclude any reports that may have been made to Devon and Cornwall Police, because the force has been unable to supply data due to problems with a new computer system.