LONDON -- Minutes after a British soldier was hacked to death in an apparent terrorist attack on a London street, a former teacher and Cub Scout leader stepped off a passing bus to offer assistance at what she thought was the scene of an accident.
Ingrid Loyau-Kennett’s matter-of-fact account of how she tried to reason Wednesday with the two suspects, who were clutching knives, a pistol and a meat cleaver in blood-soaked hands, caught the attention of the media and earned her a tribute from British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“I saw a man lying on the road and a car crashed … and assumed it was a car accident,” she was quoted as saying in British news reports.
“When I approached the body, there was a lady cradling him, and then a guy who was the excited one of the two, said, ‘Don’t go too close to the body,’” she told a morning television show. “I could see a revolver, a butcher’s knife and this ax the butchers have to cut (meat), and blood all over him.”
Loyau-Kennett, a 48-year-old mother of two from southwest England, said the man appeared excited, but did not seem to be drunk or on drugs. She described their conversation:
“He said to me, ‘Don’t touch, I killed him.’ I said, ’Why?’ He said, ‘He’s a British soldier. He killed Muslim people in Muslim countries, so I tried to get him to talk about what he felt, and he talked about all the bombs dropping, killing women and children.”
As she talked to the man, Loyau-Kennett told the Daily Telegraph newspaper, she started to notice more weapons and another man who was armed as well.
“By then, people had started to gather around. So I thought OK, I should keep him talking to me before he noticed everything around him,” she said.
She wasn’t scared, she said. “Better me than a child. There were more and more mothers with children stopping around,” she was quoted as saying.
“I could hear police coming," she continued. "I said, ‘The police are coming. What would you like to do next?’ And he said, ‘It’s a war and I want to carry on the war.’”
Loyau-Kennett said she told the man he could not wage a war in London. “I said, 'right now it is only you versus many people, you are going to lose,’” she told the Telegraph.
Cameron hailed her bravery, saying, "she spoke for us all."
“Confronting extremism is a job for us all,” Cameron said.
Britain’s defense ministry said the dead soldier was Lee Rigby, a member of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who had seen active duty in Afghanistan. Rigby’s battalion is based in barracks next to the site of Wednesday’s attack, in the Woolwich district of southeast London.
The suspects remained hospitalized Thursday after being shot by police.
Stobart is a news assistant in The Times' London bureau.