Westminster attacker ignored armed officers' warnings, inquest told

Khalid Masood had charged at firearms officers before he was shot dead, inquest hears

The Westminster Bridge attacker ignored several verbal warnings from firearms officers and continued charging towards them before he was shot, an inquest has heard.

CCTV footage played in court showed Khalid Masood moving quickly towards armed close protection officers with two large kitchen knives. The two close protection officers who were at the scene, who gave evidence anonymously, described Masood as a man with a clear intention to injure or kill.

Masood, 52, from Kent, killed five people on 22 March last year in an attack lasting 82 seconds. He first drove his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in central London, killing Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, before crashing into a barrier at the Palace of Westminster. He then jumped out of the vehicle and ran towards the gates of parliament, where he fatally stabbed PC Keith Palmer.

The officer who shot Masood, known only as SA 74 , said he initially heard a very loud noise. He told the inquest at the Old Bailey: “I’d describe it as an explosion or similar, which was directly in front of me, towards Westminster Bridge. I had no idea what had taken place at the time. I couldn’t clearly see, I then became aware of lot of incredibly loud screaming, people shouting.”

He said a “significant number” of people were coming towards him, running away from the Palace of Westminster’s Carriage Gates. He started jogging towards the gates. He saw uniformed police officers with batons drawn, moving towards him and trying to get away from someone. “I simply didn’t know what was happening, but I was now certain that something terrible was happening,” he said.

CCTV footage showed SA 74 head towards Masood before moving backwards in an attempt to give the attacker a chance to stop before opening fire. The officer wept while giving his testimony.

“I shouted at him to drop the knife,” he told the court, adding: “It had no effect.” Masood continued moving towards him. “He was going to kill me,” he said. SA 74 then fired several shots.

The other officer to give evidence, known only as SB 73, told the inquest he first saw unarmed police officers running towards them through Carriage Gates, and then saw the attacker. “He was moving at a pace, he was coming towards us,” he told the court. “My immediate thought was he had obviously used force to get through those gates.”

SB 73 said he shouted warnings at the attacker, and Masood did not change direction or speed but carried on towards them. When asked if Masood responded in any way, the officer answered no. He told the inquest he had hoped Masood would stop and did not want to use deadly force. When asked if he could think of a greater justification for having to fire, the officer said: “No, sir.”

Both protection officers quickly carried out first aid on Masood after he was shot. SB 73 administered CPR while waiting for a defibrillator to arrive. He told the court: “At that time he was still breathing. His chest was still rising and falling. He was going grey … He basically stopped breathing so I started CPR – chest compressions.”

The first defibrillator was faulty and the officer continued to provide CPR until a second was provided.

Simon Poole, a pathologist, told the inquest three gunshot wounds were found at autopsy. The first bullet, which struck the upper torso, was believed to be the cause of death.

A statement by Jeeves Wijesuriya, a junior doctor, was read out in court. He was the first medical professional on the scene. “I felt isolated,” he wrote. “I had no medical equipment. I didn’t know what I was running into.”

He first provided aid to Palmer. Unable to detect a pulse, he checked the oxygen was on high flow before he moved his attention to Masood, who he found also did not have a pulse.

He was joined by three paramedics and by senior doctors from the air ambulance service. Masood was taken to St Mary’s hospital in Paddington, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 3.35pm.

The inquest into Masood’s death opened last week. The jury was told that nobody was on trial and there was “no question of attributing blame”. It is expected to conclude at the end of the week.

Contributor

Aamna Mohdin and Hannah Mays

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Westminster attacker told mother: 'They’ll say I’m a terrorist, I’m not'
Khalid Masood made ‘goodbye visit’ five days before attack that killed five, inquest hears

Haroon Siddique

19, Sep, 2018 @4:57 PM

Article image
Widow of Westminster attacker 'sorry she was not more vigilant'
Rohey Hydara weeps at inquest as she apologises to families of victims of Khalid Masood

Ben Quinn

20, Sep, 2018 @5:16 PM

Article image
Westminster attack victim feared terrorist incident, inquest hears
Family say Aysha Frade had expressed apprehensive about working in area

Aamna Mohdin

12, Sep, 2018 @11:58 AM

Article image
Westminster attack victim was knocked into Thames, inquest hears
Andreea Cristea, who was visiting from Romania, died of multiple organ failure and immersion 15 days later, coroner told

Jamie Grierson

12, Apr, 2017 @2:00 PM

Article image
Westminster attack inquest hears how victim saved his wife
Relatives of five people killed in act of terrorism describe lives of their loved ones on opening day of Old Bailey inquest

Haroon Siddique

10, Sep, 2018 @4:24 PM

Article image
Westminster attack: armed police 'nowhere to be seen' for 46 minutes
Some unarmed officers fled in ‘understandable’ reaction to knife-wielding terrorist, hears inquest

Aamna Mohdin

14, Sep, 2018 @4:49 PM

Article image
Westminster attacker had record of increasingly violent attacks
Criminal Records Bureau report lists six convictions over two decades and alleged involvement in other violence

Alice Ross

15, May, 2017 @1:25 PM

Article image
Westminster inquest: firearms officer 'unknowingly disobeyed' instructions
Lee Ashby says he was not aware focus of patrol should have been on Carriage Gates

Haroon Siddique

18, Sep, 2018 @1:00 PM

Article image
Westminster attacker lawfully killed by minister's bodyguard, jury finds
Khalid Masood was shot dead by close protection officer after killing five people last year

Haroon Siddique

12, Oct, 2018 @4:10 PM

Article image
Traumatised Westminster Bridge survivors relive ordeal
Khalid Masood’s victims, many still recovering from their injuries in hospital, describe the life-changing attack

Esther Addley

24, Mar, 2017 @6:25 PM