An MP’s assistant has described the moment the Westminster attacker was shot, saying he was a “very dangerous threat” and had to be stopped.
Matthew Jordan watched the events of March 22 last year unfold from Portcullis House opposite New Palace Yard.
Giving evidence at the inquest into the death of attacker Khalid Masood, he said there were clear instructions for him to stop.
But Masood continued on towards Westminster Hall, regardless of the armed officers with guns raised.
Masood, 52, had two large knives and had already fatally stabbed Pc Keith Palmer and killed four pedestrians when he was confronted by two armed bodyguards.
Mr Jordan said: “He looked very intent on continuing.
“He was clearly trying to get further into the Parliamentary estate. There was no sign he was going to stop.
“It was just very perfunctory instructions – stop.”
“They had their handguns raised and aimed at the attacker.”
He said there were up to three shots in “very quick succession”.
“He immediately fell on his back and it was at that point the police and close protection officers began to move towards him to disarm him and check he was dead really.
“My immediate thought, it was a terrorist attack.
“I was not under any illusions there, and it was clear that he was a very dangerous threat and he was stopped.
“They stopped it too late, but it was stopped.”
Hugo Keith QC, for the Metropolitan Police, said: “You believed he seemed very set. There was no hesitation.
“You thought that as he went into New Palace Yard he could have attacked members of the public but he ignored them and went straight for that gate.
“You described Pc Palmer as being helpless in the face of that attack.”
“When Masood ran towards the close protection officers you described how it was obvious there had been shouts.
“You believed that one of them shouted, but when you first spoke to police you said you could hear them shouting?”
Mr Jordan said: “It could have been one, it could have been both of them. Either way clear instructions were shouted.”
Mr Hugo went on: “So obvious it was that he was being told to stop, he nevertheless carried on and you believed that threat had to be stopped and it was?”
Mr Jordan agreed.
He thought there was a demonstration before he saw a man holding an object “scuffle” with a police officer, jurors heard
When he ran towards two close protection officers, Mr Gatt said he heard a shout of “get back”.
He said: “I heard two gunshots one after another – bang bang – a short pause and then a third bang.
“He fell to the ground and the officers went to help him and resuscitate him.”
Mr Keith said: “Just as it had been their duty to shoot him, so it was their duty to save his life.”
Mr Gatt replied: “Correct.”
Professional photographer Christopher Shoebridge thought “thank god that’s over” when Masood was shot.
Recounting the events, he said the attacker “sprinted” directly towards Pc Palmer after crashing his SUV into railings.
“They engaged in a physical struggle. It was quite difficult to see precisely what they were doing but it was obviously very aggressive, very physical and very fast and then the officer fell backwards.”
He said the whole confrontation took no more than three seconds.
He went on: “The officer fell backwards with quite some force. His feet went up into the air when he fell backwards.
“There was a moment where he (the suspect) paused. It could only have been a fraction of a second before he was stood there with his right hand up in the air.
“At that point I could see quite clearly a long knife-like object in his hand. He turned and ran off towards Westminster Hall.”
He saw a man in dark clothes with arm outstretched as if holding a gun before Masood suddenly “crumpled”.
Mr Shoebridge, who handed his photographs of the attack to police, said: “It seemed obvious to me it was some kind of attack.
“When I saw him go down, my immediate thought was – thank god that’s over.”
Pc Nick Carlisle had briefly distracted Masood allowing his colleague Pc Palmer to get away after he was fatally stabbed.
He then pointed the suspect out to the armed close protection officers before he was shot.
Pc Carlisle said: “It was my belief he was solely coming to attack police officers. His aim was to kill police officers.”
Had the armed bodyguards not intervened, Pc Carlisle said the “last line of defence” would have been three uniformed officers.
It would have taken all three of them to “take him on with batons”.
Pc Carlisle told jurors: “He would most definitely have caused serious injury at least.”
- Press Association