'Immense Bravery': Bystanders Who Tackled Knife-Wielding Terrorist Praised As Heroes
Ordinary Londoners who showed "breathtaking heroism" in disarming a knife-wielding attacker have been praised by politicians and members of the public after they intervened to stop a terror attack at London Bridge.
Police shot dead the man, who had strapped a fake bomb to his body before stabbing a number of people, in what they said was a terrorism incident.
Two people have been confirmed dead, with three injured taken to hospital.
Videos on social media showed a crowd of people who had tackled the man to the ground, before being moved away by police who then shot him.
"I ... want to pay tribute to the extraordinary bravery of those members of the public who physically intervened to protect the lives of others," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. "For me they represent the very best of our country and I thank them on behalf of all of our country."
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said those who confronted the attacker would not have known that a bomb device strapped to his body was a hoax.
"What's remarkable about the images we've seen is the breathtaking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger not knowing what confronted them," Khan told reporters on Friday.
"They really are the best of us," he added.
In the videos, a man can be seen retrieving a knife from the melee on the ground before urging bystanders to get away.
George Robarts, a translator who was on the bridge at the time, said the unidentified man had run through traffic and jumped the central partition to tackle the attacker with several people.
"We ran away but looks like he disarmed him," he said in a tweet. "Amazing bravery."
Other Twitter users praised the man seen removing the knife. One said he should have his mortgage waived and another said he should never have to buy a drink again.
Rob Underwood, a 65-year-old from Lincolnshire, eastern England, who was visiting London for the day, said he heard bangs that sounded like a firecracker going off and did not initially realise they were gunshots.
"Apart from momentarily looking up and seeing whatever that flash might have been, it's difficult. You feel as though you're in a bubble, really," he told Reuters. "It was almost like a firecracker going off."
"Once you see everybody rushing and scattering, you (are) really fearing for your own safety and I think the major thing was just to get out of the way and get down," he told Reuters.
"You just feel very scared, very anxious about what's happening and just wait for whatever is going to pass."
Thomas Gray, 24, was among a group of men who dragged the killer to the floor near Fishmongers' Hall. The tour firm manager said he stamped on the terrorist's wrist to try to make him release one of two large knives he was carrying.
"I was brought up on rugby and the rule is 'one in, all in'. I did what any Londoner would do and tried to put a stop to it," Gray told the PA news agency.
Gray said he had been driving northbound on London Bridge with his colleague Stevie, when they saw several people running towards the south of the bridge. He said they did not know what to do, so he turned the car off, and by the time he got to the attacker he had been "wrestled" to the floor by "five or six other blokes".
"He had two knives on him, one in each hand, and it looked like they were taped to his hands," Gray said."I stamped on his left wrist while someone else smacked his hand on the ground and kicked one of the knives away.
"I went to pick up the knife when I heard a cop say 'he has got a bomb'. I then got back and hid behind a school bus which was full of kids at the time."
Gray said he saw "two or three" shots fired by police hit the attacker, who then "hit the deck".
"I then heard a fourth one and then a pop and a bang, followed by 'run, run, run'," he said. "I turned and ran and then heard a volley of shots from behind us."
The attacker has since been named as Usman Khan, who was convicted of terrorism offences in 2012 and released from prison late last year.
Khan was killed by police on London Bridge in full view of horrified onlookers.