Yesterday afternoon at approximately 2:40 p.m. London time, a man driving a sport utility vehicle crushed panicked pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then stabbed and killed a police officer outside Parliament. These are the facts that are verified as of this writing: At least five people were killed, including the attacker and a police officer, and 40 were wounded, according to the head of London’s Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit. After the crash, the driver left the vehicle and approached Parliament, where he fatally stabbed a police officer. The police then fatally shot him. Parliament was locked down and a search was conducted for any other assailants in the area. The police said they believed there was only one attacker. Three people who were run over on the bridge died, and the Port of London Authority said another woman was pulled from the River Thames with severe injuries. The police officer who was killled, Keith Palmer, 48, had 15 years of service and was a member of the parliamentary and diplomatic protection division of the Metropolitan Police. Others injured on the bridge included three police officers and several French high school students.
Although the police are operating under the assumption that the incident was motivated by international terrorism, the motives are not yet known, and the identity of the attacker, as of this writing, has not been released. I hesitated to even write about this event at this time, because I have learned over the years that whatever ‘news’ is reported in the first 18-24 hours after a major event is usually not accurate. However, given that a number of regular readers of this blog live in some part of the UK, I felt I needed to at least let them know that I am thinking of them and that my heart goes out to all. These are scary times, and this is heart-breaking. Hugs to Jack, Mary, and Bushka in England, Roger and David in Wales, and all who live in the UK. I am thinking of you tonight.
I am not alone in sending my condolences. Most world leaders have weighed in with thoughts, prayers and compassion:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her thoughts were “with our British friends and all of the people of London. I want to say for Germany and its citizens: we stand firmly and resolutely by Great Britain’s side in the fight against all forms of terrorism.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, “Today marks one year since the people of Brussels and Belgium suffered a similar pain and felt the support of your sympathy and solidarity.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that it was an “attack on democracies around the world” and Canadians stood “united with the British people in the fight against terrorism”.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was an “attack on parliaments, freedom and democracy everywhere” and offered his support and solidarity to the British government.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “Horrible images from London. The very heart of the city has been struck. Our thoughts are with the British people.”
Even Donald Trump reportedly behaved himself, calling Prime Minister Theresa May to offer his condolences and to praise the effective response of UK security services. He pledged the “full co-operation and support” of the US government in bringing those responsible for the attack to justice.
There was one, however, who could not hold his tongue. Donald Trump Junior apparently inherited his father’s unbridled tongue and he chose this time to criticize London Mayor Sadiq Khan in a tweet:
“You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan.” Junior was referencing, out of context, comments from a September article in The Independent, but again, he lacked context and an understanding of the entire article, and his tweet was offensive and inappropriate, to say the least.
I apologize to my friends across the pond for the idiocy of the horse’s patoot. Again, heartfelt thoughts and hugs to my friends.