The man fatally shot by police on London Bridge Friday was wearing what investigators have determined was a “hoax explosive device” when bystanders bravely tackled him to the ground, officials said.
In what authorities have declared a deadly terrorist incident, the unidentified suspect began stabbing individuals in the London Bridge area about 2 p.m. local time, London Metropolitan police said.
Two members of the public died after the attack.
According to The Guardian, family and friends identified one of the victims as 25-year-old Jack Merritt. His father, David, called him a "champion for underdogs everywhere." Jack worked at a program aimed at improving prisoner rehabilitation.
The second person who died in the attack has been identified by her family as 23-year-old Saskia Jones, according to New York Daily News. She, like Merritt, was also a graduate of the University of Cambridge. Jones also volunteered at the same program where Merritt worked.
Buses and vehicles were abandoned on the bridge as bystanders rushed the alleged attacker, grappling with the man before restraining him as police rushed to the scene.
In a video of the incident, a man can be seen holding a large knife reportedly wrestled away from the alleged attacker. Mayor Sadiq Khan commended the members of the public for their bravery in the incident, saying those individuals took their lives into their own hands when deciding to get involved.
“It shows the best of us,” Khan said.
Armed police responded to the bridge, firing at the suspect as he lay on the ground. He died at the scene, officials said.
"Officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command are now leading this investigation,” Neil Basu, the assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, told reporters. “I must stress, however, that we retain an open mind as to any motive. It would not be appropriate to speculate further at this time.”
Authorities urged the public to use caution in sharing images of the incident and asked that footage be shared directly with investigators, as the Metropolitan Police tweeted: “Help us keep you safe.”
Searches in the area continued Friday evening to ensure there was no outstanding threat to the public.
"Those extensive cordons will remain in place for a considerable time and I would ask the public please continue to avoid the area,” Basu said. "Public safety is obviously our top priority and we will be enhancing police patrols in the City and across London … I would also ask the public to continue to remain vigilant and report any concerns they have to police."