LONDON — An extraordinary furor has erupted in the British capital over a shrine to a burglar who was fatally stabbed by a retiree whose home he broke into.
Henry Vincent — a career criminal according to local media reports — was stabbed in a confrontation with Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, after he entered the elderly man’s home in Hither Green, a neighborhood in southeast London, on April 4. Vincent fled and collapsed in the road while his accomplice escaped.
Osborn-Brooks was initially arrested on suspicion of murder, but was later released without charges.
Vincent’s family members created a shrine with flowers, teddy bears, balloons and cards opposite Osborn-Brooks’ house, but angry neighbors repeatedly tore them down — prompting the relatives to reinstate them.
One card addressed to 'Henry Boy' said: "We love you so much and think the world of you. Miss you so much…doesn't seem real,” according to The Sun newspaper.
Osborn-Brooks and his wife are currently staying elsewhere under police protection and are too afraid to return home after being threatened by Vincent's friends, British media reported.
On Sunday, around 20 women put up new floral tributes near the home, saying it would have been Vincent’s 38th birthday. Authorities removed the flowers from the scene, but the women later erected the tributes on a street sign and a lamp post, broadcaster ITV reported.
Officials have now given Vincent’s family a location for a shrine 400 yards from Osborn-Brooks’ home, according to The Sun.
Local vigilantes are planning to block the road to stop Vincent’s horse-drawn funeral procession from passing Osborn-Brooks’ house, according to the newspaper.
London's murder rate recently surpassed New York City's for the first time after at least 55 people were killed in 2018, over 30 of them in stabbings.