Jack Merritt, whose father described him as a “champion for underdogs everywhere,” was the first victim named in the London Bridge terrorist attack. According to Sky News, Merritt ran toward the mayhem when he heard people screaming.
Tragically, Merritt and another person lost their lives and three other people were wounded during the stabbing attack that broke out during an university conference at Fishmongers’ Hall. The second victim, a woman, has not yet been named.
“Tragically, two people – a man and a woman – were killed during the attack. Three others – a man and two women – were also injured and remain in hospital,” Met police wrote.
Usman Khan, a 28-year-old man with a terrorism conviction, was named as the suspect who was gunned down by police after the London Bridge stabbing terror attack that ended when a group of heroic bystanders wrestled the suspect to the ground. He was attending a university prison rehabilitation conference when the stabbing broke out. Police are treating the attack as terrorism.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jack Merritt Worked to Rehabilitate Prisoners & Ran a Course for Prisoners & University Students
Merritt was working to make society better. He “worked for a programme aimed at improving prisoner rehabilitation,” according to the Irish Times, which reported that the 25-year-old’s father described his son as a “champion for underdogs everywhere.”
According to Mirror, many heroic citizens sprang into action, with one man inside Fishmongers’ Hall, where the attack broke out, grabbing “a five foot narwhal tusk” from the wall to ward off Khan.
Times of London identified that man as a chef named Luckasz, who continued approaching the suspect after being stabbed in the hand.
According to Sky News, Jack Merritt “studied law at the University of Manchester before attending the University of Cambridge from 2016 to 2017.”
Joshua Rozenberg wrote on Twitter: “Deeply sorry to hear that Jack Merritt was murdered in the terrorist attack at London Bridge. I interviewed him at Warren Hill prison about the course he ran for prisoners and university students…A fine young man, dedicated to improving people’s lives.” Rozenberg shared this link to the story.
2. Merritt’s Dad Wrote That His Son Would Not Want His Death Used for ‘More Draconian Sentences’
Merritt’s dad said his son wouldn’t want people to use his death to advance policies he was fighting against.
“My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily,” Merritt’s dad, David Merritt, wrote on his Twitter page.
Merritt added: “Cambridge has lost a proud son and a champion for underdogs everywhere, but especially those dealt a losing hand by life, who ended up in the prison system.”
He called Jack a “beautiful spirit.
3. Friends Called Jack Merritt a Caring & Selfless Person
Colleagues and friends offered tributes to Jack Merritt.
Serena Wright, a lecturer in criminology, wrote on Twitter: “David, I knew your son through Learning Together and I loved him to pieces – he was the sweetest, most caring and selfless individual I’ve ever met. The warmest heart, always with time for anyone. Completely irreplaceable – I will mourn his loss greatly and honour his memory.”
Another woman wrote, “David Merritt and Jack Merritt, two beautiful spirits. So sorry David for the loss of your son. It’s heart breaking. We’re all thinking of you.”
4. Usman Khan Had a Prior Terrorism Conviction Involving the London Stock Exchange & Connections to ‘Islamist Terror Groups,’ Reports Say
The Telegraph reported that the suspect had a prior terrorism conviction he was on a “tag” for and had connections to “Islamist terror groups.”
The Met police confirmed Khan’s past criminal history, writing in a statement, “This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences. He was released from prison in December 2018 on licence and clearly, a key line of enquiry now is to establish how he came to carry out this attack.”
The Guardian reported that the suspect was convicted as part of the “2010 Stock Exchange plot.”
Nine men pleaded guilty over the incident in 2012. A 2012 article in BBC reported that Khan was among nine men who were arrested in 2010 and “plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and build a terrorist training camp.” Three of the men, including Khan, were described then by BBC as “all members of an al-Qaeda inspired terror group” who “received indeterminate sentences for public protection at London’s Woolwich Crown Court.”
BBC added, “The court heard they had planned to raise funds for a terrorist camp in Pakistan and recruit Britons to attend.” Khan was 20 at the time and received at least eight years in prison. The story called the suspects “British nationals of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin” and “Islamic fundamentalists.”
Telegraph reported of the stock exchange plot at the time that some of the suspects “plotted to plant a pipe bomb in the lavatories of the London Stock Exchange and a handwritten target list found at (at a different suspect’s) home also listed the names and addresses of London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, two rabbis and the American Embassy in London.”
During the London attack, CNN reported that the suspect was “wielding two knives, one was duct-taped to his hand” and a witness said he tried to “stamp the other knife from his wrist.” That witness also said he saw the suspect “running away from five guys running him down with a fire extinguisher.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, said in a statement: “I am deeply saddened and angered that our city has again been targeted by terrorism. It is with the heaviest of hearts that I must now inform you that, as well as the suspect who was shot dead by police, two of those injured in this attack in the London Bridge area have tragically lost their lives.”
She added: “My heart goes out to their loved ones and to the three further injured victims who I understand are being treated in hospital, and of course to everybody who has been affected by today’s terrible and mindless events.”
5. The Suspect Was Attending an Event Called ‘Learning Together,’ Which Jack Merritt Was Helping Coordinate
According to Met police, Usman Khan had been “residing in the Staffordshire area. As a result, officers are, tonight, carrying out searches at an address in Staffordshire.”
Met Police said the suspect attended an event called “Learning Together” when the attack broke out. Irish Times reports that Jack Merritt was the “course coordinator” for the event, which was “run by the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology.”
“The circumstances, as we currently understand them, are that the attacker attended an event earlier on Friday afternoon at Fishmonger’s Hall called ‘Learning Together’. We believe that the attack began inside before he left the building and proceeded onto London Bridge, where he was detained and subsequently confronted and shot by armed officers. Daily Mail reported that the event was “a Cambridge University conference on prisoner rehabilitation.”
Telegraph reported that the event “brings together people in criminal justice and higher education institutions” and Khan was “invited to share his experiences as a former prisoner.”
One witness told Daily Mail: “The guy who was on top of him said he [the attacker] had been in prison for terrorism, apparently. Some of the guys who were on top of him were ex-prisoners and they had all been in the Fishmongers’ Hall. The guy told me he was in prison with the attacker.”