A man armed only with a 5ft narwhal tusk has been commended as a hero after footage of him confronting the London Bridge attacker was shared online.
A video from the incident appears to show three men – including one armed with a huge narwhal tusk and another with a fire extinguisher – pursuing the knifeman out onto London Bridge and tackling him to the ground.
The attacker was identified in the early hours of Saturday morning as Usman Khan, 28, from Staffordshire – a convicted terrorist with known links to extremist groups.
Two people were killed during the incident, which is believed to have started in Fishmonger’s Hall, in which an event held by the University of Cambridge’s Criminology department was being held. Three other victims remain in hospital, where they are being treated for their injuries.
Students, academics, and alumni were in attendance, as well as offenders who had been released from prison and were undertaking a programme of rehabilitation – among them is believed to have been Khan, who was imprisoned in 2012 for his part in a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange.
The Times identified the man with the tusk only as Luckasz, a chef from Poland who is believed to have been working in the hall at the time of the attack.
A photograph allegedly taken in the hall prior to the attack appears to show the enormous ornamental tooth hanging beside a second specimen beside a door. The narwhal’s tusk gives the animal, a type of whale, its nickname “the unicorn of the sea”.
The men have been praised for their quick-thinking actions in the midst of the attack, alongside a number of other members of the public who were seen confronting Khan – who was wearing a fake suicide vest – and even managing to take at least one knife out of his hand.
The Daily Mail reported that one of the men present during the attack was convicted murderer James Ford, who is believed to have been on day release on Friday.
In 2004 he was given a life sentence for murdering Amanda Champion, 21-year-old from Ashford in Kent with learning difficulties.
It is not clear where he was as the scene unfolded, however Champion’s aunt Angela Cox told the Daily Mail that he was “not a hero”, and described him as a “cold-blooded murderer”. The family were reportedly unaware that Ford was on day release on Friday.
Emergency services were called to London Bridge shortly before 2pm, fatally shooting Khan before evacuating the area around the site of the incident, including Borough Market.
London Bridge station was closed and a wide cordon put in place as officers reportedly swept the area for explosive devices.
Thomas Gray said he was among those members of the public who helped tackle the attacker on London Bridge.
He told ITV News: “Me and my colleague Stevie were driving northbound over London Bridge and we sort of came up behind a double-decker bus and we noticed several people jumping over the central reservation out to the right and sort of just peered our heads around and saw there was one chap running away from five guys running him down with a fire extinguisher.
“So Stevie and I just thought what to do, and just ran towards it, left the cars where they were and tried to do our best to apprehend the suspect.
“When we got there he was wielding two knives, one was duct-taped to his hand so all I could do after the guys had held him down and were pinning him to the ground, tried to stamp as hard as I could on his wrist to try and release the knife as it were.
“Someone kicked the knife away, somewhere northbound up London Bridge and then after that the police armed response were really quick, got there almost instantaneously, and at that point we were told he had a bomb vest so we cleared house and got out the way. At that point, saw a guy get shot a couple of times and then hit the deck. I hid behind a school bus full of little children … got the bus turned around and they went back south over London Bridge.
A large cordon is still in place around the scene of the incident, and a forensics tent has been erected on London Bridge itself as investigations continue.
Speaking on Friday evening, prime minister Boris Johnson praised the bravery of both the emergency services and the members of the public who confronted the attacker.
He said: “My thanks go first of all to the emergency services, the police for their bravery and their professionalism, and to repeat again my thanks to those members of the public who put themselves in harm’s way to protect others and I think they represent the best of our country and I thank them on behalf of the rest of our country.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also commended those who intervened, describing their actions as a display of “breathtaking heroism”.
He said: “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.
“We do know from the statement given by the assistant commissioner Neil Basu that there appears to be a device on the suspect.
“Members of the public didn’t realise at the time that was a hoax device and they really are the best of us, another example of the bravery and heroism of ordinary Londoners running towards danger, risking their own personal safety to try and save others.
“And I want to say thank you to them on behalf of all Londoners but also because it shows the best of us.”