Bystander who tackled London Bridge attacker says he was 'prepared to die'
Reformed ex-prisoner among those who subdued assailant who killed 2 people
One of the bystanders who tackled a knife-wielding attacker on London Bridge in November said he was ''prepared to die'' to stop the man who killed two people and injured several others.
Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, both former students active in a program on prisoner rehabilitation, were killed when Usman Khan went on the rampage with kitchen knives at a conference beside the bridge.
John Crilly, a reformed ex-prisoner, used a fire extinguisher to wrestle the attacker to the ground on Nov. 29. Crilly was assisted by others in subduing Khan, including a Polish man brandishing a narwhal tusk.
Police then fatally shot Khan, who was was wearing a fake suicide vest, after he stabbed a number of people in what authorities said was a terrorism incident.
Both victims worked for the Cambridge-based prisoner rehabilitation program Learning Together, and Crilly referred to Merritt as "his hero."
"It just seemed obvious that the guy is intent on hurting people and obviously, you know, I've already seen he's hurt really badly a couple of people I know very, very well. And if nothing else, he's going to be coming for me next, so it just needed stopping one way or another," Crilly said in an interview. "Whether that was getting people out of there or just attacking him, I don't know.
Watch as Crilly described the London Bridge attack:
"But either way, you're going to have to interact with him or distract him or try and take him down, don't know. Just something had to be done. You just had to take some action one way or another.''
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told a vigil for the victims on Dec. 2 that, in the face of tragedy, people should "take hope from the heroism of ordinary Londoners and emergency services who ran toward danger, risking their lives to help people they didn't even know."
The attacker was previously convicted of terrorism, but had been released early from prison. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, then in the midst of an election campaign, traded blame for the security failings that allowed the rampage to occur.
Johnson accused Labour of being soft on terrorism and vowed to end the early release of inmates convicted of terrorist crimes. He said it was "repulsive that individuals as dangerous as this man" could be freed.
Corbyn blamed years of cuts to the police, prison and parole services by Conservative governments that left the system unable to monitor offenders.
He said the tragedy raised "enormous questions" about how the attacker's state of mind had been evaluated, and "what supervision and monitoring he was under" after leaving prison.
With files from The Associated Press