02 June 2021

Attack witness said ‘police will kill him if he moves again’ – Khan inquest

02 June 2021

A solicitor who watched the aftermath of the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack warned that “the police will kill him if he moves much more” in a text message to his wife, shortly before suspect Usman Khan was shot dead.

Ian Waring observed events from his office window on London Bridge as 28-year-old convicted terrorist Khan was pinned to the ground by bystanders after he had killed two Cambridge graduates at a prisoner education event nearby.

Mr Waring said he began looking out of his office window to see the “commotion” below, at around 2pm on November 29 2019, and saw what he said “looked like a bit of a pub fight”.

Moments later, Khan was shot, initially twice, by police arriving at the scene, but continued to “wriggle” on the ground, Mr Waring said.

Usman Khan (PA Media)

Giving evidence at the inquest into Khan’s death on Wednesday, Mr Waring said police fired twice “very rapidly”, with the terrorist appearing to be struck in his chest.

Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquest, recalled two texts Mr Waring sent to his wife, a minute apart, as the standoff reached its climax.

The first text read: “All kicking off here. We’ve just witnessed someone get shot by the police.

“He had knives and was tackled to the ground by passes by.”

The second text read: “He’s moving around but police will kill him if he moves much more.”

Incident on London Bridge (PA Archive)

Mr Waring told the inquest: “He was lying down but moving, visibly wriggling around.

“He was fidgeting, his jacket was slightly coming off.”

Mr Hough asked: “Is there any reason you wrote that police would kill him if he moved more?”

Mr Waring replied: “The way the situation was developing it wasn’t going to end peacefully, as far as I could see.”

The inquest previously heard there was a gap of just under 10 minutes between the first two shots and another 18 fired as Khan attempted to get up.

He was pronounced dead roughly an hour later once the scene had been declared safe.

Witnesses who saw knifeman Khan emerge from Fishmongers’ Hall and his subsequent standoff recalled initially being unaware of the seriousness of the situation.

Photographer Richard Cains, who was on the central reservation of London Bridge near the hall at the time, told the inquest: “I’ve been in town so often when movies are being shot, at first I thought they were filming a movie over there and didn’t think more of it.

“It wasn’t something I was overly concerned with at that point.”

And businessman Benjamin Tindall, who was further down the bridge towards Borough Market, said: “They (Khan’s knives) looked almost fake, like a child had made them from tin foil, they looked so shiny.

“It looked like a sketch show, then I realised the severity as it unfolded.”

Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones (PA Media)

Khan killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, with knives strapped to his hands after being invited to an event for Learning Together at Fishmongers’ Hall.

The attacker, from Stafford, had been released from prison in December 2018 after serving eight years for plotting a terror training camp in Pakistan.

Khan was chased from Fishmongers’ Hall by three Learning Together attendees, who pinned him to the ground at London Bridge, where he revealed a suicide belt.

The inquest continues at Guildhall in the City of London.

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