A 49-year-old man was today charged after two people were stabbed at the city’s flagship psychiatric hospital.
The double stabbing sparked a major manhunt after the attacker went on the run. Roads were sealed off as police scoured Morningside for a knife-wielding man, believed to be a visitor at the Royal
A helicopter was deployed as the hunt intensified before officers detained the suspect after a search lasting several hours.
It is understood the man who was detained was a visitor to the hospital while the victims were a woman patient he had gone to see and another man who had gone with him.
Sources said the attack happened following an argument soon after he arrived in the grounds.
It is understood he did not enter the hospital building.
The injuries received by the man and woman were said to be “fairly superficial”.
The nearby Astley Ainslie Hospital went into lockdown as armed police swarmed the scene at around 4pm yesterday.
Staff at the NHS medical facility and neighbouring residents were ordered to stay indoors as officers warned the area was “not safe” – although they refused to disclose the reason for the daylight drama.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s shocking that it could happen in there.”
Patients at the Astley Ainslie and their relatives complained they were kept in the dark while searches of the grounds were carried out.
An 82-year-old, recovering from a broken hip, described the scene to her daughter as “like something from a James Bond film”.
In a text message, she wrote: “Helicopter now searching the grounds. I think this is a James Bond film. There’s an incident happening at the hospital. There are police in the grounds and visitors are not allowed to leave.”
John Masson, 59, had been seeing off a friend from his home on Canaan Lane when officers arrived in droves.
He said: “We were saying cheerio when they told me to go indoors. Quite a few of the police were armed and a helicopter was out, so it was obvious they were looking for someone.
“They were letting people out, but no-one could go in.”
Brian Carling, 46, who lives nearby, faced a two-hour wait to access his property after police cordons were erected.
He said parents, who had been going to collect their children from a summer club at the neighbouring Blind Hospital, were told they could not cross the police tape.
“The police wouldn’t let the parents in and were escorting the kids out to the cordon,” he said. “They wouldn’t say why, they just kept saying ‘we can’t tell you’. There were a lot of armed police and a helicopter flying around, so you know it’s something serious.”
Euan Kennedy, 59, has lived in Morningside Terrace, opposite the Royal Edinburgh, for 26 years and said he had never witnessed such scenes.
The retired council worker said he had seen staff apprehending patients trying to leave, but had never heard of such a serious incident at the mental health hospital.
He said: “Even when there were halfway houses for patients to readjust to life in the community, there was no trouble. Years ago, you would see the odd member of staff in pursuit of someone who had got away from the hospital but I haven’t see that for a while.”
Police confirmed a man had been charged and said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
Tim Montgomery, director of operations at NHS Lothian, said: “This was an isolated incident and no other patients or staff were injured. Patient safety remains our main priority and we will continue to help Police Scotland with their inquiries.”