BRAVERY ON THE BRIDGE
Passing detective grabs killer’s knife on London Bridge after heroes chase him with whale tusk ++ Attacker was terrorist out of jail on tag ++ He stabs man and woman dead before police shoot him ++ Murderer on day release went to aid of victim
‘He was in prison with the attacker’
THE knifeman who killed two people in a rampage before being shot by police on London Bridge was a convicted Islamic terrorist who was out of jail on a tag.
The attacker, who was wearing a fake suicide belt, was shot twice by police in full view of dozens of horrified onlookers.
Members of the public were hailed for their ‘breathtaking heroism’ after they ran towards the suspected suicide bomber – unaware the belt he was wearing was not real.
The killer is believed to have been released from jail in the last couple of years on an electronic tag, under a curfew. He was wearing the tag because he had previously been convicted of a terrorism offence, a Whitehall source confirmed.
The attack will send shockwaves through the security services. It is believed to be the first time someone convicted of an Islamic terror offence has been freed and gone on to commit murder.
The incident will also raise significant questions about the monitoring of convicted terrorists in the community.
The killer is thought to have been attending a Cambridge University conference on prisoner rehabilitation being held at Fishmongers’ Hall, just north of the bridge, when he started his rampage, killing a man and woman and injuring at least three others.
He is understood to have threatened to blow up the hall before carrying out his attacks.
He then ran south along the bridge before being stopped by members of the public armed with a fire extinguisher and a 5ft-long stick believed to have been a narwhal tusk.
A group of six men then leapt on top of the terrorist to wrest the knife from his grasp. A witness to the attack claims he was told the assailant had been in prison for terrorism offences.
Maintenance worker Jamie Bakhit, from Purley, south London, said he spoke to one of the men who helped wrestle the knifeman to the ground after they were taken to the Salvation Army headquarters to be interviewed by police.
He said: ‘The guy who was on top of him said he had been in prison for terrorism, apparently. Some of the guys who were on top of him were ex-prisoners and they had all been in the Fishmongers’ Hall. The guy told me he was in prison with the attacker.’
A group of six bystanders had chased the bearded attacker, who had at least two knives – dashing across the road and over barriers to bundle him to the ground.
Seconds later, armed police arrived and dragged away the heroes who were pinning the suspect down. Video footage captured by bus passengers going past the scene revealed how firearms officers leapt back in shock on seeing what appeared to be explosives strapped to the terrorist’s body.
Officers were heard shouting ‘stop moving’ before they shot the man dead, blasting him twice at close range in front of witnesses who ran screaming in terror.
A number of stab victims were taken to hospital with critical injuries, and sources said a man and a woman had died. Security sources said Islamic terrorism was now ‘a key line of inquiry’.
It is believed to be the first time that an Islamist terrorist released on a tag has committed murder.
Last night Westminster’s Ministry of Justice launched a review.
The revelation that he was on a tag will call into question the system which allows extended monitoring of offenders after they have served their time. The attack
came just two and a half years after three terrorists killed eight and injured 48 others on the bridge and neighbouring Borough Market in June 2017. It started in Fishmongers’ Hall, where the Cambridge University project to bring students and prisoners together was taking place.
Last night the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London paid tribute to the bravery of the members of the public who had halted the terrifying rampage just after 2pm yesterday – hailing them as ‘the best of us’. One of the men, smartly dressed in a suit, ‘ran through traffic’ to disarm the attacker.
The man, believed to be a British Transport Police officer who was on duty walking back from a court case, was filmed trying to usher onlookers to safety as he backed away holding the blade he had ripped from the terrorist.
Another bystander, tour guide Stevie Hurst, leapt to his aid. He said: ‘I was driving, I stopped the car and ran towards it. There were about five guys there when we got there.
I jumped in and kicked him in the head to make him release his knife. A few others did so. He was shouting, “Get off me, get off me”. I was just trying to do as much as I could to get him to release the knife. The knife flew away. The moment they rolled him over off his chest, they saw he had a bomb vest.’
Another of the bystanders who tackled the attacker, Thomas Gray, 24, from Brixton, south London, said one of the knives was attached to the terrorist’s hand with duct tape.
One of the heroes is believed to have helped stop the attacker with a 5ft narwahl whale tusk. TV director Amy Coop tweeted: ‘A guy who was with us at Fishmongers’ Hall took a 5ft narwhal tusk from the wall and went out to confront the attacker. You can see him standing over the man (with what looks like a white pole) in the video. We were trying to help victims inside but that man’s a hero’.
It emerged last night that a man who is believed to have raced to help one of the victims is convicted murderer James Ford, 42, who was out on day release from a life sentence for killing a young woman with learning difficulties in 2003.
Witness Cecilia Sodero, who was on the top deck of a bus going over London Bridge, described seeing the knifeman lying on the ground with a ‘very scary device, like a bomb device’. One worker at Fishmongers’ Hall, identified only as Coralie, said she saw two or three people stabbed at the headquarters of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, one of the livery companies of the City of London.
‘One minor and the other two were proper bleeding,’ she said. ‘One of our colleagues is in hospital with three stab (wounds).’
Another witness, Guy Lawrence, 48, said he saw a man running out of Fishmongers’ Hall, armed with two 20-inch kitchen knives – followed by members of the public with a stick and fire extinguisher. He said: ‘I saw all traffic stopped in front of me. I heard shooting –
there was an attack. And I saw a guy on the floor. I heard two shots – Bang! Bang!’
One distressed man emerged from Fishmongers’ Hall saying his friend had been killed in the attack. Weeping, he said: ‘My friend died in my arms. I just want him back.’ Hundreds ran for cover as they heard shots. Witnesses described how panicked crowds fled into nearby Monument Tube station.
Workers were kept inside nearby offices as police secured the area, which remained on lockdown last night.
The PM paid tribute to the emergency services and bystanders who halted the terrorist’s rampage. Speaking at Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: ‘For me they represent the very best of our country and I thank them on behalf of all of our country.’
The Conservatives and Labour both suspended election campaigning in London last night. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘What’s remarkable about the images we’ve seen is the breath-taking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger, not knowing what confronted them.’
Last night Scotland Yard’s head of counter-terrorism, Neil Basu, confirmed that police are treating the latest attack as terrorism, although he said the killer’s motive remained unclear. The attack came four weeks after the UK terrorism threat level was downgraded from ‘severe’ to ‘substantial’, meaning attacks were thought to be ‘likely’ rather than ‘highly likely’.
Extra police officers will now be on patrol across London in the wake of the horror.
Scotland Yard Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick confirmed that two people had died in the ‘terrible and mindless’ attack.
She said police confronted and shot the terrorist just five minutes after they got the first call about the incident at 1.58pm.
Dame Cressida said detectives are investigating if he had accomplices.
She added: ‘We will be working to minimise any threat there may be out there.’
Reporting team: Rebecca Camber, Claire Duffin, David Barrett, Sam Greenhill, Mario Ledwith, Xantha Leatham, Sarah Harris, Neil Sears, David Wilkes, Jake Hurfurt, Eleanor Hayward and Larisa Brown
KILLER IN BLACK CAP HOSED DOWN Passers-by with a fire extinguisher and whale tusk take down terrorist SHOT DEAD IN HOAX BOMB BELT The killer lies slumped on the ground after armed police shot him twice
Confronted: The terrorist stands brandishing blades (circled) in each hand as he is cornered by civilians armed with a narwhal tusk and a fire extinguisher
Terror: Attacker runs across London Bridge clutching a weapon (circled)
Pursuit: A fearless member of the public chases him along the bridge
Evidence: A British Transport Police officer takes away one of the knives the killer wielded. His face has been pixellated at the request of Scotland Yard
Conference: Members of the Cambridge University prisoner rehabilitation group at the Fishmongers’ Hall yesterday. They were celebrating their fifth anniversary with a gathering of education experts and former prisoners in London