Lon­don vic­tims took part in pro­gram for pris­on­ers

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Gre­gory Katz

LON­DON — Three of the five peo­ple who were killed or wounded in the Lon­don stab­bing at­tack were former Cam­bridge Univer­sity stu­dents or staff mem­bers who had gath­ered for an event to con­nect grad­u­ate stu­dents with pris­on­ers, po­lice and the univer­sity said Sun­day.

The two dead were iden­ti­fied as Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Mer­ritt, 25, who had al­ready been named by his fam­ily as hav­ing per­ished in the at­tack Fri­day near Lon­don Bridge.

“Both were grad­u­ates of the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge and were in­volved in the Learn­ing To­gether pro­gram — Jack as a co­or­di­na­tor and Saskia as a vol­un­teer,” po­lice said.

Started five years ago, the pro­gram was de­signed to bring grad­u­ate stu­dents to­gether with pris­on­ers to study crim­i­nol­ogy in an ef­fort to re­duce stigma and marginal­iza­tion ex­pe­ri­enced by many in­mates.

Jones’ fam­ily de­scribed her as hav­ing “a great pas­sion for pro­vid­ing in­valu­able sup­port to vic­tims of crim­i­nal in­jus­tice, which led her to the point of re­cently ap­ply­ing for the po­lice grad­u­ate re­cruit­ment pro­gram.”

The fam­ily said she wanted to spe­cial­ize in vic­tim sup­port.

Mer­ritt’s fam­ily said he “lived his prin­ci­ples” and “be­lieved in re­demp­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, not re­venge, and he al­ways took the side of the un­der­dog.”

The at­tacker, Us­man Khan, was ap­par­ently at­tend­ing the event and had re­turned for the af­ter­noon ses­sion when he started stab­bing peo­ple. Po­lice be­lieve he acted alone.

Khan was a con­victed ter­ror­ist who had se­cured early re­lease from prison. He was shot dead by po­lice af­ter he was re­strained by civil­ians. Of­fi­cers opened fire af­ter he flashed what looked like a sui­cide vest, but it was a fake de­vice.

One of those who was wounded was a univer­sity staff mem­ber. The three sur­vivors were not named. Of­fi­cials said one was re­leased from a hos­pi­tal Sun­day, and the oth­ers were in sta­ble con­di­tion.

“What should have been a joy­ous op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate the achieve­ments of this unique and so­cially trans­for­ma­tive pro­gram, hosted by our In­sti­tute of Crim­i­nol­ogy, was in­stead dis­rupted by an un­speak­able crim­i­nal act,” univer­sity Vice Chan­cel­lor Stephen Toope said..

Some at the event, in­clud­ing prison staff and former pris­on­ers, put their lives in dan­ger to re­strain the at­tacker un­til po­lice ar­rived, of­fi­cials said.

Lo­raine Gel­sthorpe, di­rec­tor of the univer­sity’s In­sti­tute of Crim­i­nol­ogy, said “they worked to­gether self­lessly to bring an end to this tragedy and to save fur­ther lives.”

Doc­tors are deal­ing with the sur­vivors’ phys­i­cal in­juries, but it may be weeks be­fore men­tal trauma can be as­sessed, said Dr. Vin Di­wakar, med­i­cal di­rec­tor for the NHS in Lon­don.

“The psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact of such events some­times only comes to light in the days and weeks af­ter­wards,” he said.

BEN STANSALL/GETTY-AFP

Flow­ers left in mem­ory of two peo­ple stabbed to death last week at Lon­don Bridge are seen on Sun­day.

Saskia Jones

Jack Mer­ritt

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