A kitchen porter has described the desperate battle with a terrorist who went on a knife rampage at a prison rehabilitation event in London.
Usman Khan murdered two people and stabbed three others at Fishmongers’ Hall, before being chased onto London Bridge by men wielding makeshift weapons including a fire extinguisher and narwhal tusk.
Lukasz Koczocik was putting up Christmas decorations in the staff area of the venue when a colleague ran in shouting that someone had been stabbed on 29 November 2019.
Mr Koczocik, who is Polish, told the inquests into the attack that he ran upstairs to check what was happening and see whether anyone needed first aid.
“I saw three men holding different objects, including a chair and a sign, throwing them and trying to defend themselves from someone,” he said.
Mr Koczocik could not see who the men were fighting until he moved further into the reception area, and saw Usman Khan standing in the middle of the room armed with two knives.
“He was fighting with those men, he was defending himself from the objects that were hitting him,” the witness added.
“A man took the chair and really with a lot of strength hit him in the head. I was expecting [Khan] to fall down but he didn’t.”
Another porter, Dmitri Anishenko, described the struggle as a “battle” and said that although Khan was struck with enough force to break the chair, he did not fall or drop his knives.
Mr Koczocik said he was “shocked” by the scene and momentarily froze, before following the group as the fight moved towards Fishmongers’ Hall’s grand staircase.
“For some reason I decided to grab the boarding pike that was on the wall,” he recalled, describing a long wooden spear with a metal end. “I decided [Khan] had got to be hurt.”
The porter tried to jab Khan in the face but he batted the pike away, and Mr Koczocik then took aim at his stomach.
“I hit him but it didn’t do any damage,” he added. “I heard some metallic noise coming from my hit and I thought he had some armour or something like that.”
The pike is believed to have hit Khan’s fake suicide vest, which he concealed under a large jacket before launching his attack.
Mr Koczocik said the terrorist, who had taped a large knife to each hand, then grabbed the pike and used it to pull him closer.
“He cut me in the hand and to the shoulder and then it becomes blurry,” he added. “I dropped the pike because he cut my tendon in my hand so I couldn’t grip it.”
The porter, now unarmed, described backing away as Khan came towards him, before other men ran in wielding a narwhal tusk and fire extinguisher.
Jeffrey Stevelman, a butler at Fishmongers’ Hall, described seeing Mr Koczocik fighting Khan amid “absolute chaos” as chairs and objects were thrown at the attacker.
He said Khan backed into a doorway as he came under attack, comparing the situation to a “Mexican standoff”.
“It seemed like everything stopped,” he told the inquest. “He backed off, shouting ‘call the police’. He opened his jacket and said ‘I’ve got a bomb’ and then I saw the vest.”
Mr Stevelman said he believed the suicide vest, which was later confirmed to be a decoy, was fake but could not be sure.
“It didn’t look real to me but that’s hard to say,” he added. “In that split second, none of it seemed real.”
Mr Koczocik fell back after being disarmed and stabbed, but the men wielding the narwhal tusk and fire extinguisher forced Khan back towards the entrance to Fishmongers’ Hall.
Andrew Ransom, a maintenance engineer at Fishmongers’ Hall, told how the terrorist held a knife to his chest and ordered him to “open the f***ing door”.
“I paused because I thought about what would happen if he gained access to London Bridge and the people outside who had no idea what was going on,” he said, but a colleague shouted for him to let Khan out and he complied.
Mr Ransom and another man then threw themselves against the door to make sure it automatically locked, as Khan turned around and “bashed on the window”.
But the knifeman was not allowed back into Fishmongers’ Hall and walked down the steps on to London Bridge.
Mr Koczocik followed the terrorist out, shouting a warning to people passing by that he was armed with a knife and to get away.
Khan was then chased and pinned to the ground by attendees of the event and members of the public, before being shot dead by armed police.
The inquest has been shown photos of Mr Koczocik shouting warnings to the public, while blood was dripping from his wounds onto the steps outside Fishmongers’ Hall. He was later evacuated for medical treatment.
Inquests being held at London’s Guildhall are examining the circumstances of his victims’ deaths, including Khan’s preparations and monitoring after he was released from prison following a terror sentence.
A separate inquest will follow in June to examine the circumstances of Khan’s death.