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Pc Tom Tracey
"I was very scared"
 real 28k

Nanette Fredericksson, eyewitness
"It was like a mass stampede of people"
 real 28k

Monday, 29 November, 1999, 15:39 GMT
Hero police constable back at work
PC Tom Tracey Pc Tom Tracey helped to bring down the attacker

The police constable who fended off a sword-wielding attacker during a church service in London has returned to work.

Pc Tom Tracey, 40, a uniformed response officer with the Metropolitan Police, was back on duty as usual this morning at South Norwood police station.

Only 24 hours earlier, the father-of-two was hailed as a hero after tackling a naked man who attacked members of the congregation at St Andrew's Church in Thornton Heath, south London, injuring 11 people.

Pc Tracey, who was singing a psalm in the choir when the man burst into the church, grabbed a pipe from the church organ and, with the aid of other worshippers, was able to overpower him.

There was surprisingly little noise at first, the screaming came later. People were stunned
Pc Tom Tracey
After the incident, the officer, who was with his younger 13-year-old daughter at the time, said his first thought had been for the safety of the many children who were in the church.

He said: "I was very scared but one feels obliged to try to prevent people being hurt and limit the damage as much as one can.

"Thankfully there were some other members of the parish who showed great bravery and backed me up."

Police cordoned off the area after the attack
He admitted he had thought of his family as he started to move towards the attacker and said: "When I started to approach the man I heard a young girl shout `Dad, no' and I thought it was my daughter telling me not to go.

"She was pushed out along with all the other children into the hall. She was very traumatised."

'Once in a lifetime is enough'

Pc Tracey described people's faces as showing "pure fear" as they rushed past him.

He added: "There was surprisingly little noise at first, the screaming came later. People were stunned."

He said he did not think it was his skills as a police officer that had helped him to confront the attacker, saying: "I certainly felt vulnerable, you deal with situations like this as an officer but you have the back-up then.

He added he would do it again if faced with the same danger in the future but confessed: "Once in a lifetime is certainly enough."

Det Chief Insp Phil Fitzgerald said he was not surprised at Pc Tracey's modesty and said he regarded him as very brave indeed.

He said: "He has acted within the best traditions of the service and with great bravery.

"I think the actions of Pc Tracey and those other people must have undoubtedly stopped further injury being caused.
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See also:
28 Nov 99 |  UK
Man quizzed over church attack
28 Nov 99 |  UK
Worshippers describe church panic
28 Nov 99 |  UK
Prayers for sword attack victims

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