UK Markets closed

Fishmongers’ Hall heroes give tearful accounts of standoff

Emily Pennink and Ryan Hooper, PA
·5-min read

Three men have given dramatic accounts of how they tackled the Fishmongers’ Hall attacker with a fire extinguisher and narwhal tusk, helping bring his bloody rampage to an end.

Convicted terrorist Usman Khan fatally stabbed Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, and injured three other people before running on to London Bridge.

Khan, who had two large knives and a fake suicide belt, was detained on the bridge by three men before he was shot dead by police.

Ex-prisoner John Crilly hosed Khan with a fire extinguisher and communications manager Darryn Frost jabbed at Khan with a narwhal tusk, sending him off balance.

Unarmed inmate Steven Gallant then tackled Khan to the ground, where all three restrained him until armed police arrived.

Incident on London Bridge
John Crilly could be seen carrying a fire extinguisher on CCTV as he left Fishmongers’ Hall (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Giving evidence at the inquest into the victims’ deaths, Mr Gallant said he “whacked” Khan with a narwhal tusk but was empty-handed by the time of the battle on the bridge.

Mr Gallant said: “He (Khan) stopped and turned around, possibly frustrated by our perseverance.

“I remember my hands going towards him. I grabbed his jacket, two hands.

“I grabbed him, tried to swing him round. He was very quick, a lot of movement going on, somehow I managed to grab him to the floor.”

He added: “I had done a little bit of wrestling so I knew how to pin people to the floor.”

A crowd of bystanders soon gathered and somebody suggested to “give him a kicking”, Mr Gallant said.

He told jurors: “I said no, we had control of him at that time. It would make it more difficult.”

Mr Gallant said Khan managed to get up, so he gave the suspect “a couple of uppercuts to the face”, which he said helped to “stun him a little bit”.

Mr Crilly said he thought Khan knew he was “in trouble” on the bridge.

Mr Crilly said: “Luckily Darryn hit him with the spike and he lost his balance.

“It just seemed to knock him off balance. I think he was on his way, then Steve put him down.”

Mr Crilly said he hit Khan over the head with the extinguisher.

When police arrived and ordered everyone to get back, Mr Crilly told jurors he “got off quick”.

He told jurors: “I was telling them to shoot the bastard.

“I was telling them ‘he’s just killed people, he’s got a bomb just shoot him’.”

Mr Frost feared Khan might set off the bomb once police arrived, as he had threatened to do.

“I said: ‘I’ve got his hands, he can’t kill anyone else, I won’t let him kill anyone else.’

Darryn Frost
Darryn Frost wielded a narwhal tusk in pursuit of Usman Khan (Metropolitan Police/PA)

“I didn’t want him to be shot. His statement that he was waiting for the police meant he wanted to die,” he said.

Mr Frost, his voice trembling with emotion, said: “I saw the chaos he had caused in the hall – I didn’t want him to have the satisfaction of his choice when he had taken that away from others.”

The prison and probation service communications manager continued to hold Khan, despite police telling him to let go.

He said: “There was a struggle for a while and when Khan saw I wasn’t releasing him he seemed to relax a little.

“He looked up at the officer and very gently said: ‘I’ve got a bomb, I’ve got a bomb.’

“The police shouted: ‘He’s got a bomb’. He seemed so distressed, his voice broke.”

After he moved back, Mr Frost said he heard “three cracks and an echo”.

Believing the device had been set off, he said: “I thought then that everyone was dead in the near vicinity, including the police I was trying to protect.”

But when he looked at Khan he deduced that he had been shot, he said.

Incident on London Bridge
Steve Gallant carrying a tusk as he exits Fishmongers’ Hall in pursuit of Usman Khan (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Earlier, Mr Crilly appeared close to tears as he recalled events leading to the standoff.

He told jurors he had tackled Khan, 28, with a lectern, ornamental chair and fire extinguisher, driving him out into the street.

He said he had tried to engage with Khan, who was shouting “Allahu Akhbar”.

He said: “I started shouting ‘What the f*** are you doing? What’s going on?’

“He says: ‘I’m going to kill you all. You are motherf****** dead’.”

Mr Crilly said he went on to try to “call his bluff”, asking him: “What the f*** is that round your waist? Is that supposed to be a suicide belt?”

He told jurors: “I was trying to engage with him. He started saying things like ‘I’ll blow it, I’m waiting for the police’.

“At this point it just went nuts. I say it was a bit like Benny Hill. I was running round trying to distract him.”

He threw a lectern at Khan but it “just bounced off”, the court heard.

Incident at London Bridge
Court artist sketch of John Crilly (right) giving evidence in the Guildhall in London during the inquest into the terror attack at the Fishmongers’ Hall in November 2019 (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

When Khan went into the foyer and stabbed Izzy Rowbotham, Mr Crilly threw an ornamental chair which “knocked him across the room”, jurors heard.

Mr Crilly then picked up a fire extinguisher and drove Khan back, jurors heard.

“I just sprayed him with it and it seemed to have an effect,” he said.

“He seemed to be struggling from the foam. He then came running through the foam with the knives, so I had to back off again.”

Khan staggered outside and on to London Bridge, pursued by Mr Crilly, Mr Gallant and Mr Frost.

Mr Crilly said he screamed at people outside: “He’s got a bomb, get back.”

Lawyers for the victims’ families and Coroner Mark Lucraft QC thanked the three witnesses for their acts of bravery on November 29 2019.