Cub Scout leader, ex-teacher confronted London terrorist

Story highlights

  • Ingrid Loyau-Kennett was on a bus when she saw what looked like a car wreck
  • She decided to get off the bus to help but realized a man had been hacked to death
  • She kept talking to a man who held a bloody knife to distract him
  • The man told her that he hacked a British soldier to avenge killings of Muslims, she said

Wednesday afternoon, former teacher Ingrid Loyau-Kennett was just a passenger on a bus passing through southeast London.

Thursday she was being hailed as one incredibly brave woman who confronted a man seconds after he hacked a British soldier to death in broad daylight.

READ MORE: Cameron condemns brutal hacking death, says Britain stands firm

It began when Loyau-Kennett, a Cub Scout leader, peered out of her window on the Number 53 bus, according to London's Guardian newspaper. She saw a car that looked like it had crashed and a man on the sidewalk. "I thought it was a bit bizarre," she said.

Ingrid Loyau-Kennett

Thinking she could help, she got off the bus and hurried toward the bloody man.

"When I approached the body, there was a lady cradling him," Loyau-Kennett said on ITV's "Daybreak" Thursday morning.

Watch her recount what happened

She took stock of who was around. There were two men with weapons including a butcher knife and a meat cleaver. She earlier told the London Daily Telegraph one had a revolver.

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One man's arm and hand were soaked in blood.

"The guy who was the most excited of the two said, 'Don't go too close to the body,'" she recalled.

Her eyes zeroed in on the man's weapon and the blood.

In a few seconds, Loyau-Kennett's mind tried to process what she was seeing.

"I thought, 'What the heck, what happened there?' And I thought, 'OK, obviously he's a bit excited.'"

And then Loyau-Kennett did something that most people probably cannot imagine. She started talking to him.

"I thought I had better start talking to him before he starts attacking somebody else," she told the Daily Telegraph. "I thought these people usually have a message, so I said, 'what do you want?'"

Indeed the men had a message.

"The only reasons we killed this man ... is because Muslims are dying daily," he said in video aired by CNN affiliate ITN.

"This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth," the man said in the video. "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone."

Loyau-Kennett kept trying to engage the man.

"I asked him if he did it and he said yes and I said why? And he said because (the victim) has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries. He said he was a British soldier, and I said really, and he said, 'I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan. They have nothing to do there," Loyau-Kennett said, according to the Telegraph.

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As she recalled the ordeal to "Daybreak," incredulous journalists asked her how she found the courage to continue to talk to a man holding a knife who had clearly just murdered someone steps away.

"Are you trained in any way to do this?" a journalist asked her.

No, Loyau-Kennett responded, laughing a little. "I used to be a teacher and (that) can be stressful at times."

"I know it's big to die but, for me, it was just a regular guy ... just a bit upset," she explained. "He was not on drugs, he was not drunk."

But she did get nervous.

At some point, Loyau-Kennett took a moment to look around and realized that many people were snapping photos and taking videos.

"There is so many people around," she said on "Daybreak." "I mean ... I just look(ed) one, two second(s) around, (and it was) so daunting, so many people watching like this."

She worried that the man might react to the attention and try to hurt her or someone else.

But, she said, "I said to myself, 'Just carry on.'" So she kept engaging him.

A "Daybreak" journalist asked: "Were you scared for yourself?"

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"No," Loyau-Kennett replied.

"Why not?"

"Better me than the child," she answered, explaining that she realized there were mothers and children walking nearby. The scene was not far from a school.

"It was more and more important that I talk to him," she said.

Loyau-Kennett kept asking the man, "What would you like?"

"I tried to make him talk about what he felt," she told journalists.

He told her that he was tired of bombs being dropped in Muslim countries and Muslim women and children being blindly killed.

As this went on, Loyau-Kennett thought: When are the police coming?

But, still, she asked the man, "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"He said, 'If the police come, I just shoot them.'"

Out of the corner of her eye, Loyau-Kennett said, she saw the bus start moving. It was going to leave without her and she had to go.

She figured the police were going to get there any second.

So Loyau-Kennett got on the bus and left.

It took armed officers 14 minutes to arrive, according to London Metropolitan Police.

Two suspected attackers were shot by police at the scene and are being treated in London hospitals. Authorities have not released their names.

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