Ingrid Loyau-Kennett: Heroism or Recklessness?


If you've wondered where the British stiff upper lip has gone, look no further than the face of Ingrid Loyau-Kennett . The former teacher and cub scout leader stared down alleged killers with a sangfroid the Duke of Wellington would admire. Even the British Prime Minister hails her heroism. What she did was brave, but some believe it was far from wise.

On a street in a southeast London district on Tuesday, a man who at first didn't look or sound particularily out of control, admitted on video to a gruesome act; an unprovoked murder with a meat cleaver. A body on the street and blood on the man's hands provided all the evidence many bystanders needed.

Most kept their distance waiting for police to arrive. But before they did, another bizarre situation unfolded. One of the alleged attackers struck up a conversation with a middle-aged woman who had just jumped off a bus.

"The guy, the most excited one of the two, came to me and said 'Don't ... Don't be so close (to) the body.' Or something like that. 'Don't touch the body.' So I look at him and I saw he had a revolver and butcher's knife. And blood, absolutely everywhere. I said 'Okay, what happened?' He said: 'He's a British soldier. He killed people in Muslim lands ... innocent people ... so I killed him".

Ingrid Loyau-Kennett

Ingrid Loyau-Kennett was one of the first to arrive on the scene, believing she could help with what appeared to be a car accident. It didn't take her long to realize something far more sinister was underway. But she held her ground. Cameras captured her apparently trying to reason with one of the alleged killers.

"Unfortunately, there were more and more mothers with children stopping around, so it was more and more important that I talk to him ... For me it was just a regular guy, just a little bit upset. He was not on drugs. He was not drunk"

Ingrid Loyau-Kennett

The 48-year-old mother and cub scout leader is casual about her role. She says she was simply distracting the men while waiting for police. But many British people agreed with the assessment of Prime Minister David Cameron.

"Confronting extremism is a job for us all. And the fact that our communities will unite in doing this was vividly demonstrated by the brave cubpack leader Ingrid Loyau- Bennett ... Kennett ... who confronted one of the attackers on the streets of Woolwich yesterday afternoon. When told by the attacker, he wanted to start a war in London, she replied 'You're going to lose. It is only you versus many.' She spoke for us all".

British Prime Minister David Cameron

Forensic Psychologist Gerard Bailes

While the British prime minister and media around the world are lauding Ingrid Loyau-Kennett as a hero, there are questions about whether what she did was necessarily the best approach for the average civilian. What could've been running through her mind to prompt her to get involved this way?

To talk about Ingrid Loyau-Kennett's decision in that brief moment, we were joined by Gerard Bailes. He's a forensic psychologist who trains police in hostage negotiations. We reached him in Norwich, England.

London attack: interview with Ingrid Loyau-Kennett -- The Guardian

Risk Control Strategies, Anna Winningham

Ingrid Loyau-Kennett's quick thinking kept the lid on an explosive situation before police could take over -- but police rarely endorse these kinds of actions.

Anna Winningham is executive vice-president of Risk Control Strategies, an agency that specializes in crisis management. She's also a former FBI Special Agent and has spent time in the U.S. Army.

Anna Winningham was in Los Angeles.

Good Samaritans -- The Current Archives

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Vanessa Greco and Virginia Smart.

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