LONDON – A day after two people were killed in a terror-related stabbing attack on a bridge in central London reports emerged of the brave actions taken by members of the public to detain the alleged assailant before he was shot dead by police.
Scotland Yard identified the suspect as Usman Khan, 28, an extremist who previously served jail time for plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange, Britain’s Parliament and the U.S. Embassy. After serving prison time for his role in that plot, Khan was released from jail in 2018 and fitted with an electronic tag to monitor his movements, according to a report in The Times (of London). He was wearing a fake suicide belt when he was shot dead. Police feared it was real and that he was trying to detonate it.
The two people killed Friday in the incident on London Bridge have not been named. Three others, a man and two women, remain in the hospital with serious injuries.
While Khan’s motivations remain unclear, investigators are treating the incident as terrorism and it marks the third time in the run up to the last four national votes that Britain has experienced a terrorist attack. A general election is taking place Dec. 12.
On Saturday, investigators confirmed that Khan began his attack inside Fishmongers’ Hall, a historic venue near the north end of London Bridge. There, he was registered to take part in a conference on rehabilitating former prisoners. It was organized by the University of Cambridge. Police believe Khan started his assault inside the hall, before proceeding to the bridge. They believe he mostly likely acted alone.
However, according to footage that has circulated on social media, some of which has subsequently been confirmed in statements from police and witnesses, at some point when Khan got to London Bridge he was tackled by passers-by.
“This man was walking behind us on the other side of London Bridge when the attack began,” a Twitter user identified as George Roberts wrote on the social media platform.
“He ran through traffic and jumped the central partition to tackle the attacker with several others. We ran away but looks like he disarmed him. Amazing bravery.”
Stevie Hurst, a tour guide, was one of the people who helped restrain the attacker.
“Everyone was just on top of him trying to bundle him to the ground,” he told the BBC. “We saw the knife was still in his hand. I just put a foot in to try to kick him in the head. We were trying to do as much as we could to try and dislodge the knife from his hand so he wouldn’t harm anyone else. The guys that were … heroes beyond belief.”