London attack: Heroism in the face of terrorism

Story highlights

  • Seven people died in Saturday's terror attack by three men in central London
  • First responders and members of the public have been praised for their bravery

London (CNN)As Londoners absorb the most recent attack on their city, tales of heroism have emerged from the terror.

Seven people died and 48 were injured when three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before leaping out and launching a stabbing spree in nearby bars and restaurants on Saturday night.
    Some of the injured had bravely tried to intervene as the men -- armed with what witnesses described as "footlong" knives or machetes -- indiscriminately attacked people in the Borough Market area.
    The attackers also wore what appeared to be suicide vests of explosives. The vests were later established to be hoaxes but those who tried to stop the men would not have known that at the time.

    'Remarkable stories of brave actions'

    Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick visited one of the hospitals treating the injured Sunday.
    "There, I heard truly remarkable stories of extraordinary brave actions by officers -- on and off duty -- who were first on the scene. I also heard of colleagues from other emergency services and members of the public who ran towards the danger as this incident unfolded," she said in a statement.
    "Many, many people risked their own safety to help others and to treat those seriously injured and indeed to confront the suspects involved.
    "It is clear to me that the courage of those people during and following the attack was extraordinary and I pay tribute to all of them who came to the aid of those in need during this dreadful attack and I am sure helped to save lives," the commissioner said.

    'Enormous courage in face of danger'

    Among those who risked their lives was a British Transport Police officer armed only with a baton.
    The unnamed officer tackled the attackers outside London Bridge Station, suffering injuries to his head, face and leg.
    BTP Chief Constable Paul Crowther visited the man in hospital and in a statement praised his bravery.
    "It became clear that he showed enormous courage in the face of danger, as did many others who were at the scene and rushed to help."
    "For an officer who only joined us less than two years ago, the bravery he showed was outstanding and makes me extremely proud."
    The BTP officer is now said to be in stable condition.
    Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley confirmed that an off duty officer was caught up in the attack. "I am humbled by the bravery of an officer who will rush towards a potential suicide bomber thinking only of protecting others," he said in a statement.
    Three Met police officers were injured in Saturday night's attack, two of whom were on-duty. An off-duty officer remains in serious condition.

    'No thought for their own safety'

    Authorities also heaped praise on the first responders who rushed to the scene.
    With 80 medics in full force, The London Ambulance service transported 48 patients from the two scenes of the attack.
    "There are barely words to describe their bravery -- officers who ran towards danger with no thought for their own safety," Metropolitan Police Federation Chairman Ken Marsh said in a statement.

    'Fine and decent'

    Members of the public stepped in to help.
    Journalist Geoff Ho came to the aid of a bouncer.
    A journalist wounded in the neck has been identified as Sunday Express Business Editor Geoff Ho, in an article by the newspaper.
    The Sunday Express, where Ho works as business editor, said in an article that he was stabbed in the throat and later taken to hospital.
    "Mr Ho selflessly intervened as the knife-wielding terrorists attacked a bouncer in the doorway of the Southwark Tavern, in Southwark Street," the newspaper wrote.
    "He was later seen walking calmly towards an ambulance escorted by a police officer holding a makeshift bandage to his neck."
    Sunday Express Editor Martin Townsend paid tribute to his colleague. "Geoff Ho is an absolutely first class reporter and a fine and decent man and our thoughts are with him and his family at this time," he said.

    'Professionalism and bravery'

    Others tried to protect those around them.
    Restaurant owner Jack Applebee said he was standing outside when people came running down the street. A girl said, "They're stabbing everyone."
    Applebee told his customers to go to the back of the restaurant. He said he started to pull down his shutters and turned around to see three men standing outside, one holding a machete. One wore "this sort of belt," he said.
    The men just looked at the people in the restaurant and Applebee said he didn't know what to do. The men went down the street, so Applebee and a colleague pulled down the shutters. Five minutes later they heard gunshots.
    They went to the staff room upstairs where they heard more gunshots. About 90 minutes later, police evacuated the restaurant, he said.
    "On behalf of the people of London, and on behalf of the whole country, I want to thank and pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the police and the emergency services -- and the courage of members of the public who defended themselves and others from the attackers," May said.