‘They are the best of us’
Public intervention on London Bridge called ‘breathtaking heroism’
LONDON — A man wearing a fake explosives vest stabbed five people, killing two, on Friday before being tackled by members of the public and shot dead by officers on London Bridge.
The Metropolitan Police said they were treating the incident as a terror attack.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said police weren’t looking for anyone else.
Metropolitan Police counterterrorism chief Neil Basu said the suspect appeared to be wearing a bomb vest, but it turned out to be “a hoax explosive device.”
Basu said officers were keeping “an open mind as to any motive.”
The violence erupted twoand-a-half years after a van and knife attack in the same area killed eight people.
Police said a stabbing at a “premises” near the bridge, which links the city’s business district with the south bank of the River Thames, was reported about 2 p.m. London time.
Minutes later, witnesses saw a man with a knife being wrestled to the ground by members of the public, before armed-response officers shot him.
One video posted on social media showed two men struggling on the bridge before police pulled a man in civilian clothes off a black-clad man on the ground. Gunshots followed.
Other images showed police, guns drawn, pointing at a figure on the ground in the distance.
Karen Bosch, who was on a bus crossing the bridge, said she saw police “wrestling with one tall, bearded man” and then heard “gunshots, two loud pops.”
She said the man “pulled his coat back, which showed that he had some sort of vest underneath, whether it’s a stab vest, or some sort of explosive vest, the police then really quickly moved backwards, away.”
Another bus passenger, Amanda Hunter, told the BBC that the vehicle “all of a sudden stopped and there was commotion and I looked out the window and I just saw these three police officers going over to a man.”
“It seemed like there was something in his hand, I’m not 100 per cent sure, but then one of the police officers shot him.”
Police confirmed that the man died at the scene.
The mayor praised the “breathtaking heroism of members of the public who literally ran toward danger not knowing what confronted him.”
“They are the best of us,” Khan said.
Cars and buses on the busy bridge were at a standstill after the shooting, with a white truck stopped diagonally across the lanes. Video footage showed police pointing guns at the truck before moving to check its inside contents.
British Transport Police said London Bridge station, one of the city’s busiest rail hubs, was closed and trains were not stopping there.
Scores of police, some armed with submachine guns, flooded the area, ushering office workers and tourists out of office buildings, banks, restaurants and bars. Staff in nearby office blocks were told to remain inside.
The stabbing Friday revived memories of the June 2017 London Bridge attack, when three assailants inspired by the Islamic State group ran down people on the bridge, killing two, before stabbing several people to death in nearby Borough Market. That fatal attack took place days before a general election.
Britons are due to go to the polls again on Dec. 12.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said he was receiving updates on the stabbing and was returning to his 10 Downing Street office from campaigning in his local constituency.
In March 2017, an attacker fatally struck four people with a car on nearby Westminster Bridge then fatally stabbed a police officer before security forces shot and killed him in a courtyard outside Parliament.
Police surround a man on London Bridge Friday, in this photo from @HLOBlog, during what they’re calling multiple “terrorist” stabbings. Police shot a man after two people were stabbed to death.