Sunday 20 August 2017

'We were just trying to keep everyone as safe as we could' - Waiter describes how restaurant staff came to rescue of customers in London attacks

Rebecca Lumley

A waiter who found himself in the midst of last night’s terror has described the chaos that ensued as three men carried out an attack in Borough Market.

The waiter, only named as Jack, was working in a restaurant close to London Bridge, when the terror unfolded.

He recounted the panic to barricade the premises in a bid to keep colleagues and customers safe.

He said: "We were just standing outside and next thing you know there’s probably about 20, 30, maybe more people running down the street and there was one particular girl who said that they’re stabbing everyone, you need to just go, go, go sort of thing."

The attackers had ploughed their van through pedestrians on London Bridge, before running towards Borough Market and carrying out numerous stab attacks.

Jack described taking the injured woman into the restaurant and directing customers towards the back of the premises, to a staircase that was considered an escape route.

He said: "It was just literally swarms of people and first thing I did was I turned around and said to the customers 'get to the back, get to the back, get to the back'.

"A few of the staff and myself got all the customers to head towards the stairs, we’ve got stairs at the top and we always thought there was a bit of an escape out the top if needs be."

Jack and his colleagues caught a glimpse of the attackers as they stood in the doorway of the restaurant.

"The image I’ve got mainly now, I just remember three of them standing in the restaurant and the next thing they move. As soon as they moved, we literally just ran to the front, got our key, put it in the shutter and just tried getting that shutter down so they couldn’t get in that way, which came to a bit of an obstacle when the shutter was going at a very slow speed.

"My colleague’s looking out, keeping an eye out for them and we’ve got the customers in the back and we’re just trying to get it down. We got it as low as we could but we couldn’t get it all the way because I had to get back in, so I had to roll back in the bottom and we barricaded the bottom."

Jack recounted that customers were surprisingly calm as they gathered at the back of the restaurant.

"We got them all upstairs and probably about five minutes later we're hearing gunshots.

"One of my colleagues, the same one again, underneath the thing [shutter] he caught a glimpse of what he thought was a suicide vest. He told me he thought they were explosives so we just got everybody to stand on the others side of the building, just trying to keep everyone as safe as we could really."

Police arrived at the scene just eight minutes after receiving an emergency call. They shot all three attackers dead at the scene.

While many eye-witnesses report seeing the attackers wearing explosive vests, it has been confirmed that the attached devices were fake.

Seven people were killed and 48 injured in the attack.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are no reports of any Irish citizens being involved.

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