Stephen Jones: "It was children, a lot of children with blood all over them"
Many homeless people gather outside the arena at night, he says
Stephen Jones, a homeless man who was outside the Manchester Arena when Monday’s deadly attack took place, is being hailed as a hero after he helped the wounded as they fled the scene.
“First there was a bang, I thought it was some kind of firework, and then there was a big explosion,” he told CNN affiliate ITN.
“I just felt the wind force, and then everyone started screaming and running. Me and my mate we got up and we started running. We realized what had happened, we run back, and all the women and children were coming out with blood.”
Police have not given details of the device used by the attacker, who died in the blast along with 22 of his victims, but Jones said he saw injuries he believed were caused by nails.
Instinct to help people
“We are human, we still have a heart, we still have that instinct to help people out that need help and that’s what we are doing. And obviously when we are seeing children like that, with blood and, pulling nails out of their arms and stuff, and there were a couple in a girl’s face,” he said.
“It was children, a lot of children with blood all over them, crying and screaming. If I didn’t help, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself for walking away and leaving kids like that.”
“We wiped blood from children’s faces. I mean, one little girl, she was covered in blood. Her mom was screaming so some guy was coming at her, took the little girl’s t-shirt off her, and it was someone else’s blood shed on her.”
Jones described how he and a friend held the legs up of a woman who was severely bleeding while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. “We thought she was just going to bleed right out.”
Crowdfunders rush to help
His selflessness has not been lost on social media where one woman set up an account on the charity fundraising site Just Giving, which has now raised close to $30,000.
And on Tuesday, David Sullivan, joint-chairman of English Premier League club West Ham United, told the BBC he would like to help Jones further.
“It looks like he needs some help, so we are desperate to find who he is and give him six months free accommodation and a little bit of money to help him on his way,” Sullivan told BBC Radio 5 live.
Sullivan, together with his son, David Jr. tracked Jones down with the help of social media. The pair are now working out how to pay his rent for the next six months while supplying him with new clothes and work opportunities.
“Dave and myself were both hugely impressed by the bravery shown by Steve, the emergency services and all those who rushed to the aid of those affected by the Manchester attack,” said Sullivan in a statement.
“This was a terrible incident, but the response of the people of Manchester has been one of bravery, togetherness and resilience – the hallmarks of what makes Britain such a fantastic place.
“Steve was just one of hundreds of people who forgot about their own safety and rushed to the aid of others, and we were both moved by his story. Steve deserves this chance to improve his own life after his selfless and heroic acts undoubtedly improved the lives of so many others.”
Jones’ actions are shining a spotlight on Manchester’s growing homeless problem. The newly elected mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has pledged to donate 15% of his salary to a homeless charity.
Jones said a lot of homeless people sleep outside near the Manchester Arena, where the attack happened.