Before police officers are sent out to protect and serve their communities, they undergo thorough training so they are prepared to handle any situation.
In September 2018, a former police officer from London found himself at the scene of a traumatic hate-crime and realized an 8-year-old was about to be killed. Despite being retired from the force, the cop relied on his training and, thankfully, that little boy managed to walk away from the attack with barely a scratch.
A Religious Event
On the night of Tuesday, September 18, 2018, the Al-Majlis Al-Hussaini Islamic center in Cricklewood in northwest London was hosting a religious event. That evening, hundreds of Muslims from the surrounding area turned up for the event, which didn’t finish until after midnight.
A Suspicious Car
Just before the religious event finished, however, volunteers and members of the Muslim community center’s security team were notified about a car parked in the parking lot. According to officials from the Metropolitan Police Service, the security team learned occupants of the car were “behaving anti-socially, drinking and allegedly using drugs.”
Locating The Car
The security team heard that the group were in a red Nissan Juke in the private parking lot around the corner from the mosque. They immediately went out to see what was going on and found the car containing three men and a woman. According to sources, all four occupants appeared to be in their 20s.
Not only were they trespassing on private property, but the group appeared to be drinking and using drugs. At around 12:30 a.m. that Wednesday morning, the security team then proceeded to ask the occupants to leave. While asking the group to leave, the team explained they were on private property.
Words Were Exchanged
Unfortunately, the occupants of the car refused to leave peacefully. According to the police, the occupants of the car responded by shouting Islamophobic and racial slurs at the volunteers. “Words were exchanged and comments of an Islamophobic nature were allegedly made by the group in the car,” the police said in a statement.
A Tirade of Abuse
According to Simon Rose, the local police commander, there was an altercation as a result of the slurs. “They were subjected to a tirade of Islamophobic and racist abuse and an altercation then took place,” Rose said at the scene. The altercation involved the occupants of the car and several members of the mosque.
“The car then drove near the center and the occupants were involved in a confrontation with a large group of people visiting the center,” police said in a statement about the altercation. “The car then reportedly sustained minor damage by some of those outside the center.”
By that point, the hundreds of Muslims attending the event at the mosque began filing out and walking along the road to their parked cars. It was then that the driver decided to put his foot down on the gas. While driving about 60 miles an hour, the car jumped up on the curb and drove straight into the crowd.
A Traumatizing Hate Crime
“The people who had been challenged then drove at members of the community in a car,” Rose said about the moment the car plowed into the crowd of 1,000. According to those in the crowd, the occupants continued to yell out anti-Muslim slurs as they raced toward them.
An Eye-Witness Account
“I was a few milliseconds from being mowed down,” a witness, Ali Salman, told The Sun. “We were walking to our car when we heard a loud bang and a car revving its engine like it was trapped or being held back. Security were screaming ‘stop him.’”
A Life-Saving Reaction
“We heard loud sounds, a car skidding around,” Salman, told The Guardian. When he realized what was happening, he pushed his friend out of the car’s path. “If I didn’t react without thinking, we would have been dead,” the 33-year-old added.
‘Hitting People Like Dominoes’
“I managed to jump in between two cars and the parked cars acted as a barrier which saved many lives,” Salman told The Sun about how he managed to escape being run over. “Then the car came racing down the road and hitting people like dominoes, the driver was aiming at people for sure.”
A Chaotic Scene
“The car was bouncing off the other parked cars and there must have been 50 to 100 people chasing it down the street,” Salman said. “There was 1,500 people on the street. It was chaotic,” a security guard from the Islamic Center said. “If the cars weren’t parked on both sides there could have been at least 15 people dead. It was mayhem … but everyone came together and helped people out.”
A Former Cop In The Crowd
Ali Mashkour, who used to work for the Metropolitan Police, was in the crowd during the terrifying attack. “I heard glass breaking and the revving of an engine and the screeching of tires. It was driving quite fast,” Mashkour, a former special constable, told The Guardian.
A Chilling Realization
“It was in the middle of the road, then turned to come on to the pavement … There was a crowd. It turned right, on to the pavement where I was standing,” Mashkour said. “I was standing right here when the vehicle turned towards me,” Mashkour told Sky News about the moment he realized what was happening.
Thanks to his police training, however, he was able to stay calm. While everyone else was panicking, he let his instincts take over. “Naturally, I don’t know why, I just looked around and there was this young boy, don’t know who he was, there were lots of people walking around,” Mashkour said.
A Hero’s Instinct
“I literally just picked him up from his shoulders and flung him across to the other side and then I moved out of the way,” Mashkour said. “If I did not move him and then myself, the kid would have been hit.” After passing them by, the former cop watched the car jump the curb and hit a man.
A Gruesome Sight
“He was three meters away from me. […] The vehicle hit him, he flew up into the air and then went back down. The top half of his body hit the bonnet and then he was dragged across these gates. Then the driver decide to go back onto the road and onto the pavement again to get more civilians.”
“I had the father hugging me and kissing me, thanking me for saving his eldest son’s life. Which is quite emotional but I believe it’s something anyone would do.” According to the police, the car then drove off and was involved in a fail-to-stop accident. In total, three people who were hit by the car were taken to the hospital for treatment once first responders arrived at the scene. Thankfully, no one was killed in the attack.
A Terrorist Attack
“We were extremely fortunate there was no loss of life,” superintendent Rose said in a statement. “It is being dealt with as an Islamophobic hate crime and it is being dealt with as a racist hate crime. It is not at this time being dealt with as a terrorism incident, although that is as always subject to continuous review.” However, witnesses believe the attack was clearly a terrorist attack. Salman told The Sun: “It was a terrorist attack. It was an attack on our community fueled by hatred – he [the driver] knew what he was doing, he hadn’t lost control.”