TRIBUTES poured in this evening for the soldier victim of the Woolwich massacre, drummer Lee Rigby
Drummer Rigby, 25, from Crumpsall, Manchester was from 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, attached to the Regimental Recruiting Team in London.
Sergeant Barry Ward said he was “a loving father” to his two-year-old son Jack, and had “a very bubbly character”.
A shocked and tearful neighbour outside the family home, a council house on the Langley estate in Middleton, Greater Manchester said: “He had always wanted to be in the army since he was knee high.”
The woman, who did not want to be named, added: “He was a lovely lad, he lived around here for years and went to Middleton Tech.”
A steady stream of relatives and friends visited the house throughout the day to support the family.
Police and PCSOs also stood guard outside the house and patrolled the street.
Drummer Rigby, who joined the Army in 2006, had served in Helmand province, Afghanistan, where he was a member of the Fire Support Group in Patrol Base Woqab.
A life-long Manchester United fan, he had also stood outside the Royal Palaces as part of his battalion’s public duties commitment.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor, Commanding Officer Second Fusiliers, said Drummer Rigby was a “real character”.
He said: “Larger than life, he was at the heart of our Corps of Drums.
“An experienced and talented side drummer and machine gunner, he was a true warrior and served with distinction in Afghanistan, Germany and Cyprus.
“His ability, talent and personality made him a natural choice to work in the recruiting group. He will be sorely missed by everyone in the Second Fusiliers.”
The Rt Revd Mark Davies, The Bishop of Middleton, said; “The nation has been shocked by Lee’s death. But the greatest burden is carried by those he knew and loved. Our prayers and sympathies are with his family, friends and those he served with.”
Drummer Rigby was brutally murdered in the street in Woolwich, south east London, yesterday by two attackers who were British and of Nigerian descent.
The pair, who were shot by police, were known to security services, and apparently shouted “Allah Akhbar” as they struck.
It is believed that the serving soldier was run over and then hacked to death, yards from a primary school.
Alfie Swain, who said he had met Drummer Rigby, told BBC News: “I can’t explain it, how much it hurts. It’s just disappointing.
“I’d met him in and out of the Army base itself. Hearing that he’s gone is just destroying. He was a nice man. He was caring, loving. To hear that he’s gone is just disappointing.
“I’m just terribly, terribly upset. I just want to burst into tears right now.”
Today the killers remained under armed guard in different London hospitals after they were shot by armed police.
Eyewitnesses said that one of them charged towards officers clutching bloodied weapons including a meat cleaver, while the other brandished a gun.
One chilling video clip showed a man with heavily blood-stained hands claiming the killing was committed in the name of Allah and ranting about the Government.
He said: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”
The attacker went on: “We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
Today officers searched the former home of a man called Michael Adebolajo in Saxilby, Lincolnshire, as well as other addresses in London.
This afternoon two police vans were stationed outside a ground-floor flat in east Greenwich, south-east London, with about a dozen officers positioned outside.
The front door of the flat in Eastney Street, had been shattered.
One neighbour said four people had been led away from the flat at 6am, and that two children, aged three and seven, were also taken away.
Another neighbour Nicola James, 45, said she believed one of the men arrested over the Woolwich incident was in a relationship with one of the two women who live at the Greenwich flat.
Two officers walked out of the flat carrying two full black bin liners.
Ms James said she had not seen the other suspect around the housing estate, but added: “He was always out in Woolwich, giving out radical leaflets.”
Following a meeting of the Cobra emergency response committee today, Prime Minister David Cameron said the attack had “sickened” the country.
He said: “This country will be absolutely resolute in its stand against violent extremism and terror. We will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms.”
Anjem Choudary, former leader of banned Islamic group Al Muhajiroun, said he knew one of the attackers but had not seen him for about two years.
He claimed to recognise the man who was filmed wielding a bloodied meat cleaver while saying: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”