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Bloodied Woolwich terror suspect, ranting to camera, thought to be former Romford schoolboy Michael Adebolajo

PUBLISHED: 13:28 23 May 2013 | UPDATED: 10:18 24 May 2013

Stills from video footage of Michael Adebolajo after the killing of a soldier in Woolwich. Credit: ITV News.

Stills from video footage of Michael Adebolajo after the killing of a soldier in Woolwich. Credit: ITV News.

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The bloodied man seen ranting on camera minutes after a soldier was hacked to death in Woolwich yesterday was raised in an “ultra-Christian household” in Romford, friends of the family claim.

The scene in Woolwich where a soldier was killed. Picture: @Yusuf_Kayalar/PA Wire The scene in Woolwich where a soldier was killed. Picture: @Yusuf_Kayalar/PA Wire

Michael Adebolajo, who lived in Eastern Avenue East and went to Marshalls Park School, Romford, is believed to be the man filmed after the killing wielding a blood-soaked meat cleaver and knife, saying: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone.”

The flat in Kings Lynn Drive, Harold Hill, where Adebolajo’s sister Blessing lived has been searched by detectives. A woman purporting to be Blessing later told the Romford Recorder: “They have searched our home in Harold Hill; we didn’t know he was going to do this.”

One of Adebolajo’s former schoolmates, who has asked not to be named, said: “Michael was in my form [at Marshalls Park] and we shared a lot of classes.

“I know a lot can change in 10 years – but, whether or not he liked you, he’d stick up for you.

Police activity close to the scene where the soldier was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. Picture: PA Police activity close to the scene where the soldier was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. Picture: PA

“I was bullied myself and he was the one who put a stop to it.”

Another schoolmate wrote on the Recorder’s Facebook page: “He was always a good guy at school [who would] do anything for anyone.”

In chilling footage captured by a passerby soon after the soldier was hacked to death, Adebolajo offers the following explanation: “We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.”

A past Marshalls Park pupil, who was friends with Adebolajo’s younger brother, said: “Everyone I’ve spoken to from Marshalls Park is reeling. You can’t imagine you’ve gone to school with someone who could do that.”

Michael Adebolajo went to Marshalls Park School, Romford Michael Adebolajo went to Marshalls Park School, Romford

The 26-year-old, of Romford, added he had recognised his former schoolmate immediately.

“As soon as I turned on the TV I was like: ‘It’s Michael Adebolajo’. It definitely looked like him and spoke with the same mannerisms. He had dodgy teeth.

“He stood out because he was really tall.

“He was a clever guy but he was cheeky. I’d never have seen him as a Muslim extremist.

A flat in Kings Lynn Avenue, where Adebolajo's sister lived, was searched by police A flat in Kings Lynn Avenue, where Adebolajo's sister lived, was searched by police

“His family were very Christian. They moved to Lincoln when we left school in about 2003. I haven’t heard from them since.”

A number of other Marshalls Park alumni left similar thoughts on the Recorder’s Facebook page.

One wrote: “I grew up with him for years – through juniors, outside football leagues and seniors.

“He was in my form and my mate.

“This really makes no sense.”

As children left Marshalls Park yesterday afternoon (Thursday), police were handing out leaflets to reassure pupils and parents at the gates.

Adebolajo attended Marshalls Park from 1996 to 2001, before moving onto Havering Sixth Form College. In a statement, the college said a student with Adebolajo’s name had studied A levels there between 2001 and 2003.

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