UK

London Bridge attack officer fought 'to keep people alive'

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Media captionPC Marques fought all three attackers at the same time

The police officer who single-handedly tried to stop the London Bridge attackers took them on armed just with his baton.

PC Wayne Marques of British Transport Police was temporarily blinded in one eye as the three attackers slashed at him with their knives.

The men drove into pedestrians on 3 June then stabbed people, killing eight and injuring 48.

"All I was trying to do was keep people alive," the policeman told the BBC.

Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba were shot by specialist armed police at Borough Market.

Eyewitnesses believe PC Marques' fearlessness saved lives.

He thought he would die in the dramatic confrontation but says he was only doing his job.

The 38-year-old, originally from Birmingham, has been a police officer for less than two years, following six years as a community support officer.

During his attempt to stop the three attackers, who appeared to be armed with suicide bombs, PC Marques received major injuries to his head above his eye and left leg near the hip. He also suffered wounds to his hands as he tried to defend himself.

His sight has returned but he does not know if he will return to work.

PC Marques was on a nightshift at London Bridge on 3 June and looking forward to watching the Champions League football final highlights on his break.

He then heard screams coming from the direction of the bridge and realised something was wrong.

Image copyright Unknown/Met Police
Image caption Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba: PC Marques fought all three at once

"I don't see who's screaming - but what stood out to me was everyone at that bar was absolutely static - like statues. The bouncers, the people having a cigarette, the people in the queue. All still and staring in one direction."

Thinking there had been a pub or gang fight, he ran down the road and was told there had been a stabbing.

"I had no real idea what was going on - and I hear this woman scream behind me. I look and see a young woman and she is being attacked by the first one. I see another man running towards me and he falls flat.

"When he falls to the floor I see the first attacker with the knife in his hand. And then my brain starts to click into gear.

"This guy on the floor is pleading for his life and the attacker stands over him and continues to attack him.

Image copyright Gabriele Sciotto
Image caption Photographer Gabriele Sciotto's image from the attack appears to show a man with canisters around his waist

"I take my baton with my right hand and I rack [extend] it. I take a deep breath and I charge in.

"I try to take the first one out in one go. I swing as hard as I can - everything behind it - aiming straight through his head.

"I know I managed to get a good hit on him and I am starting to overpower him. He's yelping in pain - he's not completely on the floor, but he is lower down.

"Then I get a massive whack to the side of my head. I felt metal."

The second of the three attackers had rushed in and stabbed PC Marques above his right eye.

"As soon as I get the whack, my right eye goes dark. Just lights out. I got the stun from the whack to my head, I'm stumbling and I manage to look up and I see a knife coming towards me.

"It was instinct more than anything - I just put my hand out and blocked his wrist with my baton."

As the second man advanced, the men ended up brawling as the attackers tried to stab PC Marques into submission.

"We're going at it - I'm not sure who's hitting who - I'm just fighting. And then I see the third one come in."

Image copyright BTP

Over what he believes was around ninety seconds, he continued to try to fight all three of them at once. But as he tried to control all three men, the first attacker who was still on the ground stabbed him in the leg.

"I look down and see there is a knife in the side of my leg. I realised the first one had got back up and started sticking it in my leg to bring me down.

"I've got one voice in my head - 'don't go down, don't go down'. I'm just swinging at them. I didn't realise how badly I was hurt."

The three attackers put some distance between themselves and the officer and turned to face him.

'Like a surreal cowboy movie'

"And that's when I get to size them up," he said. "The short one - he was the one that I heard saying 'Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar'. He said it a few times, eyes bulging.

"It's almost like some surreal cowboy movie, getting ready to draw. I'm just getting ready for them to rush me.

"For some reason they didn't come to rush me, to finish me off. I couldn't tell you why. Your guess is as good as mine."

The attackers rushed off to find other victims and PC Marques' colleagues arrived at the scene.

"I said, 'you've got to go, you've got to go get them'. I was bleeding out all over - I knew I had been damaged and hurt.

"In my left eye, that black shroud starts to close in. I knew time was up. I thought that was it, my time is coming to an end.

"I call the officer who is holding my hand, I've got blood in my mouth and I'm spitting it out. I start to give him my last messages for my family and partner. He's like, 'no, mate'. And I'm saying, 'just do it' and the last light goes. I'm out."

PC Marques woke up in hospital and after a series of operations was discharged on Friday.

He is taking 25 pills a day for his injuries.

Image copyright Pc Wayne Marques
Image caption PC Marques and colleagues on London Bridge before the the attack

He hopes to regain full use of his legs but says it is too early to say if he will ever return to work as a police officer.

"That decision may be taken out of my hands depending on what state I'm in in the months ahead. When that bridge comes, I will make that decision. The only clear answer I have for you about being a police officer is that it's what I'm good at. I'm good at what I do.

"Am I a hero? I guess in a lot of people's eyes I am, but there are still eight people that lost their lives and many more that got wounded.

"All I was trying to do was keep people alive. That was my job, keep people alive. And that's what I did, that's what I tried to do."

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