Video: Bystanders praised for risking their lives to disarm London terrorist

Two men have been praised for jumping in to disarm and subdue the attacker

Alexi Cohan
Boston Herald

LONDON — Bystanders who “ran towards danger” wrestling a knife-wielding terrorist to the ground in the London Bridge attack are being praised for their heroism — a dynamic that experts say is becoming more common in the ever-present face of terror.

“This now is not such a novel experience,” said Boston personal safety and self-protection expert Gershon Ben Keren. “Once you’ve had a number of these type of attacks, people start to realize they are the first responders.”

Two people were killed and three were injured in what police are treating as a terrorist attack on the London Bridge Friday where a man wearing a fake explosive vest stabbed several people around 2 p.m.

Minutes later, the knife-wielding man was tackled to the ground by people on the bridge before armed officers rushing to the scene shot the attacker dead.

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.

Another video depicted a man in suit and overcoat holding a long knife that apparently had been taken from the attacker. Other media outlets reported a bystander jumped in to help, armed with a 5-foot narwhal tusk he tore off the wall of a nearby Fishmongers’ Hall.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised the “breathtaking heroism” calling the selfless heroes “the best of us.”

Ben Keren said when hiding or fleeing isn’t possible, there is no other option than to confront the attacker. “That risk is worth taking rather than going fetal and hoping that something doesn’t happen to you.”

He added that if someone decides to intervene, they should issue commands and instructions to others around them. “Don’t just run forward to attack the assailant and hope other people will follow you, instruct them to follow you.”

Retired FBI supervisory special agent Todd Hulsey told the Herald such heroics “encourages” him that there are “still people out there who are willing to take action in the face of danger.”

Bystanders don’t need any special skills to intervene, he said, just the capacity to look for an opening.

“If you can walk, breathe and see, and carry a club, that may be all the skill you need,” the former agent said.

Hulsey said that many people make the mistake of taking photos and videos with their cellphone instead of intervening or even just calling 911.

He added “we all have it in us if we are observant enough to see where an intervention would be most effective.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also praised the bystanders, and said anyone who was involved in the attack “will be hunted down and will be brought to justice.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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