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London Bridge attack: Harrowing accounts of Usman Khan’s deadly rampage

Written by on 29 May 2021

Usman Khan took just five minutes to carry out his deadly attack at Fishmongers’ Hall in London, killing two young people and injuring three others.

The convicted terrorist stabbed his victims before he was chased on to London Bridge and tackled by members of the public who were carrying a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk.

The 28-year-old homegrown jihadi, who was wearing a fake suicide vest, was then shot dead by police.

Usman Khan recorded a 'thank-you' message for a Learning Together event in Cambridge in March 2019 Image: Usman Khan had served eight years behind bars for a terror offence

Graphic details of what happened inside the hall and how Khan prepared for the 2019 attack have since emerged during the inquest into the deaths of Saskia Jones, 23, and 25-year-old Jack Merritt.

Here is what happened on that day.

Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt had been at a prisoner rehabilitation event when they were killed Image: Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt died in the attack

Preparing for the attack

Khan had been invited to prisoner rehabilitation event at Fishmongers’ Hall organised by a project called Learning Together.

In the week leading up to the event, he bought knives, gaffer tape, a “manbag” and an extra-large coat which he used to hide a fake suicide vest.

Khan also spent the day prior to the attack getting his hair and beard trimmed at a barbershop “in preparation for martyrdom”, the inquest heard.

Usman Khan was seen on CCTV buying a bag a week before the attack Image: Khan was seen on CCTV buying a bag a week before the attack

As he travelled from his home in Stafford to London, CCTV footage showed Khan going into a toilet cubicle on a train for roughly seven minutes.

It was during this time that police believe he fixed the fake suicide belt around his body under the oversized coat.

CCTV footage shows Usman Khan on a train where he is believed to have put on a fake suicide belt Image: CCTV footage showed Khan on a train to London

Police later found electrical items in Khan’s flat, including his Xbox computer console, had been stripped of their wiring, which he is thought to have used in the belt.

Khan arrived into London’s Euston Station at 7.30am where he was met by a Learning Together staff member, and the pair travelled by Tube and foot to Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge.

Usman Khan pictured at Bank station in London before the attack Image: Khan pictured at Bank station in London before the attack

The victims arrive

Cambridge University graduate Jack Merritt was a course coordinator for the Learning Together project.

The 25-year-old had worked extensively with Khan prior to the event.

Jack Merritt arrives at Fismongers' Hall in London Image: Jack Merritt arrives at Fismongers’ Hall in London

Former criminology student Saskia Jones was invited after working with Learning Together while at Cambridge University.

She was in two minds about attending the event and only made the decision to go the day before, her mother told the inquest.

Saskia Jones pictured arriving at Fishmongers' Hall in London Image: Saskia Jones arrives at the event

Footage of the event showed Khan talking “animatedly” with Ms Jones at a table, even though they had not known each other before.

A barrister who shared a table with Khan at the event said he seemed “a little shy”, while a legal executive who was sat nearby said he looked “anxious”.

Saskia Jones sat beside Usman Khan at the prisoner rehabilitation event Image: Saskia Jones sat beside Usman Khan at the prisoner rehabilitation event

During the event, Khan had a brief conversation with a prison governor who asked him why he was wearing an extra large coat.

Khan claimed it was due to the weather but in fact, it was concealing his fake suicide belt.

Saskia Jones sat beside Usman Khan at the prisoner rehabilitation event Image: Khan was seen talking ‘animatedly’ with Ms Jones

Khan launches attack

Khan launched his deadly knife attack after entering the toilets on the ground floor during a break.

He is thought to have used wax strips and razors to shave his chest, underarm and pubic hair in a toilet cubicle, before arming himself with two knives strapped to his hands.

He left a bag containing a third blade in the cubicle and dropped a prayer book on the floor.

One of Khan’s knives had a crudely etched Arabic symbol for Allah on it.

A knife and tape used by Usman Khan in his attack Image: A knife and tape used by Khan during his attack

At 1.53pm, Mr Merritt entered the toilets and roughly three minutes later, Khan attacked him.

He stabbed Mr Merritt multiple times, causing 12 injuries including a fatal wound to the chest.

A waitress heard screaming coming from the toilets before Khan emerged and locked eyes with her.

“He was not doing anything, but just staring at me,” Sandra Bufano said.

Khan then stepped towards Ms Jones, who was about to leave belongings in a cloakroom, and stabbed her in the neck.

Saskia Jones Image: Ms Jones, pictured at the event before the attack, was stabbed in the neck

“He wasn’t rushing, he was completely calm and collected. He moved without rushing,” Ms Bufano said.

She then saw Mr Merritt looking unsteady on his feet and with blood dripping down his arm, before she “panicked” and ran.

‘I saw Usman coming towards me with knives in his hands’

Another witness, housekeeping supervisor Ama Otchere, said Khan had “anger in his face” as he came out of the men’s toilets.

He then put his finger to his lips as if to tell her not to scream, she told the inquest.

Isobel Rowbotham was in the foyer when Mr Merritt emerged covered in blood.

Jack Merritt at a prisoner rehabilitation event Image: Mr Merritt was attacked by Khan in the men’s toilet

The office manager for Learning Together said Mr Merritt was shouting that he had been stabbed and he was holding his stomach.

“There was a lot of blood,” Ms Rowbotham said.

“He was wearing a white shirt so the red blood was quite obvious. He was hunched and in a lot of pain.

“I looked around to my left and then I saw Usman coming towards me with knives in his hands.”

‘I decided to play dead’

Khan was holding two big kitchen knives and moving “purposefully” when Ms Rowbotham pleaded with him: “No, Usman, please don’t”.

“He was not going to stop,” she told the inquest. “I turned to my left and just tried to hunch and protect myself.”

Ms Rowbotham said she felt like she was being punched as Khan stabbed her repeatedly before she fell to the floor.

One of the knives used in Usman Khan's attack Image: One of the knives used in Khan’s attack had a symbol etched on it

She told the inquest: “I remember his final stabs were in my neck and it felt sort of like he thought they were final stabs, as in they were intended to finish me.

“I was on the floor and had closed my eyes but could still hear.

“I decided to play dead just in case he came back again and realised I wasn’t dead straightaway.

“I tried to slow down my breathing and blood flow as much as possible.”

‘A loud and guttural roar’

Former prisoner Gareth Evans held Ms Jones in his arms and told her “she was loved and she was beautiful” as she lay dying.

“I was trying to make sure she felt comfortable and safe,” he told the inquest.

Saskia Jones, one of the victims of the knife attack at Fishmongers' Hall Image: Saskia Jones was told ‘she was loved’ as she lay dying

Prison officer Adam Roberts tried to stem the bleeding with his jacket and shield Ms Jones as Khan was “being aggressive and shouting”.

The terrorist was moving backwards and forwards making “false charges” and “almost coaxing people to come towards him”, Mr Roberts said.

Filmmaker Amy Coop, who had been working at the Learning Together event, said Ms Jones was “ashen, grey in the face”.

“Her eyes were open and very glassy and staring straight upwards,” she said.

The filmmaker then heard more shouting and “a loud and guttural roar”.

The Learning Together event was held at Fishmongers' Hall in London. Pic: Met Police Image: The Learning Together event was held at Fishmongers’ Hall in London. Pic: Met Police

“It was a horrible noise coming from someone. It sounded like the kind of thing you see in a film,” Ms Coop said.

Khan was “expressionless” as he then attacked criminology graduate Stephanie Szczotko, stabbing her in the arm and torso.

“I remember looking at him with shock and confusion,” Ms Szczotko said.

‘I tried to stab him in the face’

There were scenes of “absolute chaos” as bystanders tried to hit Khan with various items inside the hall to stop his deadly rampage, the inquest heard.

Usman Khan killed two people in a terror attack at Fishmongers' Hall near London Bridge in 2019 Image: Usman Khan was ‘expressionless’ as he attacked one victim, the inquest heard

Kitchen porter Lukasz Koczocik said he grabbed a boarding pike from the wall of the building as he tried to disarm Khan.

“A couple of times, I tried to stab him in the face, he was batting me away,” said Mr Koczocik, who is originally from Poland.

“I took the aim of his stomach. I did hit him in that area but it didn’t do any damage.

“I heard a metallic clink, so I thought he was wearing some armour.”

Mr Koczocik said Khan grabbed the pike while still holding his knives and stabbed the kitchen porter in the hand and shoulder.

“I dropped the pike because he cut the tendon in my hands so I couldn’t grip it,” he added.

A decorative pike used to try to disarm Usman Khan Image: A decorative pike used to try to disarm Usman Khan

One witness described a “Mexican standoff” between Khan and Mr Koczocik before the terrorist opened his jacket and shouted: “I’ve got a bomb, call the police, I’ve got a bomb.”

Ex-prisoner John Crilly said he had tried to engage with Khan, who was shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

He told the inquest: “I started shouting ‘What the f*** are you doing? What’s going on?’

“He says: ‘I’m going to kill you all. You are motherf****** dead’.”

‘Is that supposed to be a suicide belt?’

Mr Crilly said he tried to “call his bluff”, asking Khan: “What the f*** is that round your waist? Is that supposed to be a suicide belt?”

He threw a lectern at Khan but it “just bounced off” and then launched an ornamental chair which “knocked him across the room”.

Mr Crilly then picked up a fire extinguisher and drove Khan back.

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Bystanders chase Usman Khan with narwhal tusk

“I just sprayed him with it and it seemed to have an effect,” he said.

“He seemed to be struggling from the foam. He then came running through the foam with the knives, so I had to back off again.”

Khan staggered outside and on to London Bridge, pursued by Mr Crilly, another former inmate Steven Gallant and communications manager Darryn Frost.

Mr Gallant said he “whacked” Khan with a narwhal tusk from Fishmongers’ Hall but was empty-handed by the time they ended up on London Bridge.

Steve Gallant confronted Usman Khan on London Bridge Image: Steve Gallant confronted Usman Khan on London Bridge

“He was very quick, a lot of movement going on, somehow I managed to grab him to the floor,” he said.

“I had done a little bit of wrestling so I knew how to pin people to the floor.”

A crowd of bystanders soon gathered and somebody suggested to “give him a kicking”, Mr Gallant said.

“I said no, we had control of him at that time. It would make it more difficult,” he added.

Mr Gallant said Khan managed to get up, so he gave the terrorist “a couple of uppercuts to the face” which helped to “stun him a little bit”.

Mr Frost jabbed at Khan with the narwhal tusk, sending him off balance.

Darryn Frost fought off Khan with a narwhal tusk Image: Darryn Frost fought off Khan with a narwhal tusk

Armed police arrive

Mr Gallant then tackled Khan to the ground, where all three restrained him until armed police arrived.

As officers ordered everyone to get back, Mr Crilly said he told them to “shoot the b*****d”.

“I was telling them ‘he’s just killed people, he’s got a bomb just shoot him’,” Mr Crilly told the inquest.

But Mr Frost begged police not to give Khan the “satisfaction” of being shot dead and refused to let go of the terrorist.

He said: “I saw the chaos he had caused in the hall – I didn’t want him to have the satisfaction of his choice when he had taken that away from others.”

Mr Frost told the inquest Khan looked up at an officer and “very gently said: ‘I’ve got a bomb, I’ve got a bomb.'”

The police then pulled Mr Frost away, and he took refuge nearby where he heard three “cracks”.

The fake suicide belt worn by Khan Image: The fake suicide belt worn by Khan

“I thought it was fireworks… that he had set off this device but it was of an amateur nature,” Mr Frost said.

“I thought everyone was dead in the vicinity, including the police I was trying to protect.

“I was looking for smoke from these fireworks.

“But there didn’t appear to be any, so I thought the police shot him.”

Detective Chief Inspector Dan Brown said Khan was shot and Tasered by police but still appeared to present a threat as he writhed on the floor wearing the purported IED.

The senior officer said police discharged firearms again at 2.10pm and by 2.12pm Khan no longer showed any signs of life.

An examination of the IED later revealed it was not genuine, the inquest heard.

Surgery on the street

After paramedics arrived, police officers took Mr Merritt outside on a stretcher and medics carried out open chest surgery in the street.

Dr Andrew Milne told the inquest: “Saskia did not have a chance of recovery, had been in cardiac arrest for too long and, (given) the blood loss and the region where she was stabbed, we did not have a hope of reversing cardiac arrest.”

Saskia Jones died in Friday's attack Image: A doctor on the scene said Ms Jones ‘did not have a chance of recovery’

Dr Milne said he felt there was a “chance” to save Mr Merritt and wanted him to be taken out first.

The doctor described the moment he realised Mr Merritt could not be saved.

Jack Merritt Image: Medics performed open chest surgery on Mr Merritt in the street

He said: “I can feel the heart is very empty. At that point I knew the patient had bled to death. Jack had bled to death.”

Ms Jones was pronounced dead from a single neck wound at 2.25pm, while Mr Merritt died at 2.33pm.

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