Fish in a Barrel

by Nicolas Ravasi

Andrew Stoltz: I’m not a lucky man

An exclusive interview with the only survivor of the Holborn Massacre.

From the November 16 2018 edition of the Daily Watchman, by Nick Reggiano.

“It was just another day,” told me Andrew Stoltz, a 27 year old, short-haired man. His eyes were spent, something not apparent from the pictures published across the news, provided by his mother. Andrew’s main request for this interview was that he not be photographed, as he doesn’t wish to see the image of his current state. He’s also told me he intends to shave, grow a beard and tattoo his face, so that there be absolutely no chance of him being recognized. He was lying on his hospital bed, having just undergone a four hour surgery to remove 2 bullets from his body and to mend two lacerations into his chest.

Andrew could surely be called a lucky man, as out of the seven survivors he was the only one to live through the night. Andrew, however, told me he didn’t feel that way.

“I’d be a lucky man if I hadn’t stepped into that bloody tube carriage that day.”

Andrew will retain the use of his left arm, which was grazed by a bullet, but his left leg was pierced through and through, shooting past the bone.

“We’ll see,” told me doctor Thomas Matthews when I asked for the chances of the leg’s recovery.

I would hardly blame Andrew if he didn’t wish to relate the events of November 13, but to my surprise I found him quite talkative.

“I’m not gonna make it out of that murderhole without a bunch of cash,” he told me. So I paid him his twenty-thousand pounds, (which will mostly go to his medical expenses, I presume) courtesy of the Daily Watchman.

“I’d just gotten off work…” he began, “... I work at a pub around Holborn. Not my ideal choice, and the customers are mostly drunks, but the pay was good. Every morning I took the tube from Wood Green to Holborn, maybe 25 minutes or so, and (of course) every evening I took it back. So I was done with my shift, and I walked over to the station and went down.”

“What time was this?”

“I don’t know, seven-thirty? Anyway, it wasn’t that crowded, considering the time, and I walked over to the left side of the station, because there’s usually less people at the trains’ extreme ends. So I’m walking over, ignoring everyone around me, but this fucking guy… I was desperately trying not to pay attention to him, or rather I was trying not to be seen paying attention to him. That guy looked like he was trying to disappear, but how could anyone-

“Is this Eric Landover?”

“Yes. He was a good three inches taller than me, and he was wearing an army camouflage jacket. He wore black wool gloves, black trousers, and his face was covered by a black balaclava and a hood was wrapped around his head. I could only see a sliver of skin, just his pupils, and they were looking at me. There was a large brown leather bag beside him, I couldn’t see any brand names. He was standing beside a set of unoccupied seats, leaning back on the wall. I was unnerved, but I didn’t want to show it… I mean, it’s not a crime to be a weirdo… but more than all I just wanted to get as far away from him as possible. So I walked over to the end of the platform, lingered there beside him for a few moments, but the train was coming in a few minutes! So I casually walked back, past that guy without even looking at him, and got to the opposite end of the platform. The train arrived. I was about to board, but then I thought about that same guy getting on the same train as me… the same carriage would already be bad, but I didn’t want this guy near me, so I decided to wait for the next train, even though it was due in seven minutes. So people are trying to squeeze out and squeeze in, and after a few minutes everyone has pretty much left. But not that guy.”

“Eric Landover?”

“Yes, yes! Eric Landover! It was Eric Landover, and he hadn’t gotten on the f*****g train. I think he was looking straight at me. I just pretended to read texts from my phone, anything not to look at this guy back in the eyes. I had a feeling, I really had a fucking bad feeling about this, and from now on I’m always going to listen to it, not that voice telling you that everything’s going to be ok and that you’re just imagining things. And then I see Eric walking over to me. There was no one else on the platform, completely f*****g empty… how is that even possible at Holborn at seven-thirty? And he walks over to me, step by step, taking all the time in the world because he’s still got seven minutes. I should’ve run, but I still didn’t want to offend this guy. And this guy walks up to me, and do you know what he asked? He asked, ‘Why didn’t you get on the train?

“What did he sound like?”

“His voice was really heavy, like lifting his tongue took lots of effort, and he spoke very slow. It was really deep, but not rasping.

I was scared at this point, but really saddened as well. I didn’t want to offend him, so I said, ‘It was full.’

And he replied, “I saw lots of people getting out, but not many getting in.’

What could I say? I said, ‘No, it was really full.’

So he nods, turns around and drags his bag back to where he used to be, the opposite end. At this point the platform starts filling in, and he’s not even looking at me anymore. Then the train arrived. I had that feeling, I fucking had that feeling, that I should wait this one out too, but it was beginning to get late, and I just wanted to go home. So I got on, at the very last carriage. I still had a few seconds before the doors closed, but I’d already sat down. Then they started to beep, and the doors closed. The train got going.”

November 13, 19:54

*Excerpts from Sergeant Tareek Palmer’s police report are in bold.

No day is completely alike to any other day, but all present would later reminisce how mundane this day had been at first. Trump had said nothing inflammatory, there was no report of any of the weekly ecological disasters and it had been many years since people had last heard of ISIS. Even the previous day’s mass shooting was comparatively mild, as only two people had died, passing completely unnoticed under the death of Stan Lee.

November 13, 2018, however, would prove to be one of the few events of the year that would manage to stand out from the ceaseless barrage of murders and lies that barraged 2018.

At 19:54, Haringey resident Eric Landover stepped into the front carriage of the Cockfosters carriage. There were at least twelve passengers, including two children: a brother and a sister.

The emergency handle to unlock the driver compartment’s door was broken, almost certainly by Eric Landover. Eric then entered the compartment and shot the driver, Silvia Hernandez with a 9 mm Hi-Point 995 carbine to the side of her face, probably as she turned her head to figure out what was happening. Eric then shot the driving equipment four times, then turned around to the carriage. The passengers’ corpses were grouped around the bridge to the next carriage. One was still on his seat, meaning he’d probably just woken up, but the rest were killed in trying to escape to the next carriage. The 8 year old boy and 10 year old girl were the farthest from the bridge, and they were killed by shots to the back of the head.

Erik Landover had just murdered the passengers of the first carriage. The ones in the other carriages heard the shots and panicked.

“I heard shooting,” continues Andrew Stoltz, “and of course I knew what had happened. I felt like such a fucking moron, and I still do. Some seventy-something man dressed with a clean white shirt and suspenders jumped to the emergency phone and tried to contact the driver, but no one answered.”

According to diagnostics run on the train’s computer after the shooting, the passengers collectively rang the alarms to contact the driver over 47 times, but they were never answered.

“There was some woman next to me, wearing a cheap perfume and cheap clothes, and she got up and asked, ‘What the hell is happening?’

The shooting stopped for a moment, then began again.

Eric Landover entered into the second carriage. John Bolser, a 47 year old male insurance agent, was found beside the open bridge with a large gash cutting straight into his skull. Judging from his position, and from the broken window above him, I believe that he attempted to press himself against the bridge-door in order to keep Eric Landover from entering. Eric Landover continued to fire into the crowd, shattering the window, then drew a large knife (not yet recovered) and stabbed it into John Bolser’s skull. Eric Landover then pushed the door opened and continued to fire into the crowd, killing seven people. On the way to his next carriage he shot four bullets at an advert for Wonga.com.

Just why did Eric Landover waste four of his limited bullets to shoot at that advert?

Wonga.com is a service that offers quick loans at an interest of 1509%. It would not be an exaggeration to say that their entire business model relies on people not reading the documents they sign, and Eric Landover probably did not read it. He borrowed 500£ to pay basic living expenses, as the rest of his pay had gone to pay for his mother’s (Hannah Landover) stay in Tranquil Oaks retirement home. He would soon have to pay 7545£ to clear his debt.

Eric Landover worked as a cashier at a Tescos, an increasingly irrelevant job in face of the increased mechanization.

“His job consisted of watching over the self-checkout machines,” explains his former manager, Michelle Anders. “Making sure no one snuck away any items, explaining people how the machines worked, over and over, over and over. He didn’t talk much to me, or anyone else. To be fair, no one else talked much with anyone else either.”

“So you didn’t know him very well?”
“No. Not at all. He had a badge with his name on it and I still couldn’t remember his name. He was one of seven workers just like him, you know, who don’t talk much, keep quiet the whole day then go back home.”

We reached Wonga.com for comment, but they refused to answer any of our queries. However, Inspector Maria Tomita assured us that Wonga.com had put pressure on Eric Landover.

“We stepped into his apartment, this dingy little place in the basement of a seven-floor building. The windows were tiny slits on the ceiling, and very little light got in even during the day on account of another building being situated right in front of it. I looked through it, and the view showed a gutter running beside a red brick building. A restaurant dumped their garbage bags in front of it, often entire platefuls of spaghetti and whole loaves of bread, now completely soaked in mud and rain.

There were piles of takeaway boxes set up around the kitchen… this tiny, tiny kitchen, and there were lots of letters piled up against the door. Some of them were from Wonga.com, yes, and they grew increasingly threatening. What struck me the most was that some of these letters were opened, and were from many months ago, but they were still piled up against the door. There marks of boots on them- the same we found at the scene of the crime- and some had been ripped apart, but had all been left there. We also found many tiny boxes of bizarre products, strewn about. We believe that Landover bought his weapon from a dealer on the Deep Web, who sent him numerous parcels of random items that would easily pass through postmen’s radar, and that over the course of four months he built himself the illegal weapon. We even found printed instructions on the floor, along with all the other letters.”

After Erik Landover shot the Wonga.com advert he continued into the third carriage, out of six. We possess detailed information about the following carriage because extraordinarily, 16 year old Laura Moller recorded the event on her iPhone. The recording has not been released to the public, but I (and a few other members of the press) were allowed to listen. I was not allowed to create a transcript, so I apologise for any inaccuracies that may result as I try to describe what I heard.

The recording begins abruptly, at 19: 56. There are shots in the background, and panicked voices scream. I remember Laura looking straight into the camera. If I could draw I could reproduce every single feature of her face; I can still see it now. She was so sad, I couldn’t believe that her eyes were already so red and full of tears, but she didn’t look frightened. She was at that stage when fear ceases to be useful, because she knew there was no way she was going to survive. More shots were fired, and the camera was pointed towards the end of the carriage. Between the shaking and the running, I could see a man in an army camouflage shirt wearing a black balaclava, a rifle in his hands. There were three shots, and a woman shrieked and fell to the ground. I can hear Laura sobbing. Four more shots; the screams intensify.

That’s when I see light flashing by the carriage’s windows. The carriage had just bolted past Russell Square.

“So the train didn’t stop. It’s happened before, but not every often,” explains Mary Vernon, who at the time was in charge of supervising the Piccadilly Line. “I found it hard to believe that a driver would just forget to stop, but fine. I try contacting them, but I get no answer. Actually, not only did I not get an answer, I didn’t even get any contact with that carriage, whatsoever. I thought the driver might’ve had a heart attack or something, so I try to take control of the train and to control it remotely, but I absolutely cannot contact it. This starts worrying me… has there been a systems failure? If the train cannot stop then it might crash into another one, and even if by some miracle we manage to get all other trains out of the rails it’ll still crash into the last station. I contact my supervisor, who wanted to contact his own supervisor, who wanted to get approval to blah blah blah. So I called every driver to get as far away as possible and shut down all electricity. The brakes didn’t kick in, but it began to slow down.”

I think that if I watched the video again I might pinpoint the moment in which Laura died, but I don’t want to. I’m sure the inspector who kindly let us listen to this recording could also tell me when she died, but I don’t want to know. Eric Landover very visibly reloads his gun and fires again. A man lunges for him, then is shot down. People scream, and he shoots. There are less and less screams, then Eric walks past the phone camera. I hear more shots, and more screams, all growing quieter.

The recording continues for another ten minutes, until battery runs out. The train slowly stops, and with it the video comes to a complete still. I would’ve mistaken it for a pixture if I couldn’t hear more bursts of shooting in the background, covered by so much static.

After shooting Laura Moller and everyone else in her carriage, Eric Landover walked into the fourth carriage. This is where he first encountered resistance.

There are two bullets encased in the end of the right side of the carriage, pointed towards the bridge where Eric Landover was advancing. A passenger yet to be identified fired on Landover with an illegally obtained 9mm pistol (recovered, no brand name, poor quality), shooting at least four bullets. One of them struck Landover in the shoulder, causing minor bleeding. Landover, however, sustained no more wounds and continued his shooting. It is probable that Landover managed to kill his opponent and continued his killing spree.

Eric Landover killed 15 people in the fourth carriage, then killed twenty more in the fifth (penultimate) carriage. At this point a crowd had gathered by the furthest ends of the train, as Andrew Stoltz explains:

“I was already at the far end of the train, and at the very last seat, but not everyone was. People started charging into the carriage. More and more kept coming in, pushing me harder against the wall. There was an emergency door at its very end, but the train was still moving at a really fast speed. But that didn’t deter someone from smashing the glass on its handle and dragging it open. He jumped out and smashed his head against the speeding tracks, and then he was gone from sight. A few more people slipped out, I don’t remember how many, and the crowd thought better than to jump out, but the people pressing into us didn’t know about that. They felt the crowd giving way, and they kept pushing, and more and more got pushed out. The only reason I’m here is because I stood on my seat and pushed myself against the wall, but the winds of the tunnels were always so close! I kept screaming at the people to stop moving, but they couldn’t hear me over the sound of their own screams. Then the carriage flew past a station, and we cried and screamed for help. I’m not sure if they heard us.

Then the carriage started slowing down. Soon it was moving slow enough for us to jump out, and people started jumping out in droves! I was out as fast as I could, and I just ran and ran and ran. But there was no light. All the electricity was gone, there were just these emergency lights on the ceiling, but all they could tell you was which way the tunnel kept going. Useless. I kept running. I could hear people running by my sides, and behind me. Then I heard shooting, and a large flashlight shone down the tunnel. Everyone started screaming. The shots were echoing around the tunnels, it hurt my ears until they throbbed. Every shot was as loud as mortar fire, and they just kept coming. There were less and less screams, and I started feeling bumps under my feet. They were probably the corpses of the people that had jumped from the speeding train. Some were probably still alive, but I heard they got shot when Eric passed by them. He was slow, but he just kept shooting. And he shot my arm. It hurt, you can’t believe how much it hurt, but I still had legs, so he started aiming for them. And he got me. All of a sudden I just couldn’t walk anymore, and I fell to the ground. My head was inches from hitting the rail.

The flashlight keeps getting brighter, and I’m trying to keep myself from squealing, but that was useless. He walks up to me, and I hear him opening up his gun’s cartridge, then closing it back up. Then I feel something stabbing my back. Can you fucking believe I didn’t even twitch? No, I didn’t twitch. I don’t know how I got that willpower, but I did not make a sound, not even when I stabbed me another time. He waited a long time, standing over me, doing nothing. Then I heard another shot, and he tumbled over me. I started screaming for help, and all the while I was scared that another train was going to run over me, who was sprawled over the tracks, but I couldn’t get my leg to move and my arms hurt so much when I tried pushing myself. The police came for me, and then they brought me to an ambulance, and they gave me morphine.”

Eric Landover did not waste a bullet. With his last remaining bullet he shot himself in the head. It took long to identify him, as he was not on any suspects list and was not affiliated with any extremist organisations. In fact, he was hardly affiliated with anybody. His mother declined to comment, and his teachers had very little to say about him: below-average grades, not very attentive. Only his childhood friend Tommy Smith had anything substantial to say:

“The only thing we had in common was that we didn’t talk much. We just walked about school, often in circles around the field, because there really wasn’t anything else to do. There were some kids who liked picking on us, and there was very little we could do about it. No one was coming to our defense, and we couldn’t go to the teachers because we were scared that the bullies would become even more aggressive, and we couldn’t go to our parents.”

“Why couldn’t you go to your parents?”

“For me, that stuff’s a bit personal, but I saw a lot of Eric’s mum, and she didn’t really do much. She laughed when I told her they’d called him Wartface, and she’d just heat us up some dinner, and then she’d usher me out. Eric complained that his mum was treating him weird, and that she was getting very sad now that his dad had died. I stopped seeing him after a while, because I moved to a different school.”

I asked him if he ever could’ve predicted the massacre.

“No. We didn’t speak much, as I said, so I never really got to know how he really felt about things. But one time he said something that stuck with me. He said that it was cheap and cowardly to pick on us, because there was nowhere we could escape and no one to help us. He said it was like shooting fish in a barrel.”

The tragedy of November 13 is over. Many are flocking to light candles at Holborn station, and the relatives of the 87 deceased have posted many emotional messages on social media, receiving thousands of likes and upvotes. Donald Trump tweeted that Eric Landover could’ve been stopped had someone on the train possessed a gun, prompting the usual mockery at his lack of knowledge on the subject he commented (there was indeed a gun on the train), and Prime Minister Theresa May expressed “great sadness for the victims.”

Eric Landover will be buried at an undisclosed, unmarked grave.

Feb.19KCL Creative Writing