Queen praises heroes who used a narwhal tusk and fire extinguisher to stop London Bridge attacker
LONDON - The queen on Saturday led tributes to individual acts of bravery on London Bridge, which included a Polish immigrant helping subdue the British-born terrorist with a five-foot narwhal tusk grabbed from a wall.
As more details emerged about Friday’s deadly knifings - carried out, police said, by 28-year-old Usman Khan, previously convicted and jailed for a terrorism plot - new profiles in courage appeared in the British press. They were bolstered by amateur video clips, witness statements and paeans by the London mayor and the British prime minister.
British media reports also said that one of the people who intervened in the attack is a convicted murderer.
The intervention of several members of the public appears to have stopped the attack from being far worse, witnesses said, as Khan was seen running onto London Bridge with a large knife in his hands.
He was then confronted by at least three men. One jabbed with the decorative narwhal tusk. Another let loose a spray from a fire extinguisher. A third used his fists and feet.
The attacker was later shot and killed by police.
Queen Elizabeth II, in a statement, praised their bravery. “I express my enduring thanks to the police and emergency services, as well as the brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others,” she said.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, no relation to the dead attacker, said he was in “awe of the people who ran toward danger to keep us all safe.”
Asked about reports that one of the defenders was from Poland - whose identity has not been made public - the mayor confirmed he was a Londoner of Polish origin.
“One of the great things about London is its diversity, so I’m not surprised at all. When I say ‘the best of us,’ I include E.U. citizens as well,” the mayor said.
Many social media posts also pointed out that campaigners for Brexit used stereotypes such as the “Polish plumber” and other tropes about workers coming to Britain from across the European Union.
British Transport Police said Saturday that another man widely seen in social media videos carrying away a large, bloody knife seized from the assailant was a plainclothes police officer who helped detain the suspect. The police asked that the news and social media obscure his image and do not name him.
It all began just before 2 p.m. Friday, when Khan allegedly entered the historic Fishmongers’ Hall beside the London Bridge.
Police said Khan was attending an event hosted by Learning Together - a Cambridge University-backed program that works to reeducate and socialize prisoners - when he launched the attack.
In dramatic footage shared widely online, three individuals - the one wielding the tusk, the one with the fire extinguisher, and the one who was seemingly armed with nothing but quick reflexes - brought the attacker to the ground.
The assailant was shot dead after he fatally stabbed a man and a woman. Three others were wounded.
The assailant was wearing what appeared to witnesses as a “suicide vest.” London’s mayor pointed out on the BBC that they would have had no clue at the time that the explosives were fake.
“They had no idea whether this man had a bomb you could detonate by pressing a button, they had no idea how many other people were involved,” he said. “What do they do? They run toward him.”