A security guard at the Manchester Arena working at the venue on the evening of May, 2017 said he had a “bad feeling” about a suicide bomber that night, but did not approach the man because he feared being labelled as a racist, according to the findings of a recent inquiry.
Kyle Lawler said he was standing just 10-15 feet away from the attacker, Salman Abdei, just minutes before detonated his explosive device outside of the Manchester Arena following an Arianna Grande concert.
Lawler was attempting to reach the security control room on his radio for advice after a member of the public had alerted one of Lawler's coworkers, Mohammed Ali Agha, about the "dodgy" looking Abdei.
Abdei, 22, was dressed in all-black attire and carrying a large rucksack filled with thousands of nuts and bolts. The bombing killed 22 innocent victims shortly after the concert had concluded.
Lawler, 18 years old at the time of the attack and being paid a mere £4.24 an hour, was unable to reach the control room because of a bad radio signal. In a police statement filed at the time of the attack, the young security guard said he “felt unsure about what to do. It's very difficult to determine a terrorist. For all I knew he might well be an innocent Asian male.”
“I did not want people to think I am stereotyping him because of his race. I was scared of being wrong and being branded a racist if I got it wrong and would have got into trouble,” Lawler stated. “It made me hesitant. I wanted to get it right and not mess it up by over-reacting or judging someone by their race.”
Prior to the bombing, Lawler said he had never dealt with a report of a suspicious person, and was unaware that the location Abdei was standing in was a blind spot for CCTV cameras, a spot likely identified by the bomber during previous reconnaissance.
The public inquiry is investigating the events prior to and during the bombing, and is expected to last into the Spring of 2021.