Horrified diners hid from attacker with ‘massive knife’

Story highlights

Restaurant owner: "There were gunshots everywhere"

Witnesses huddled for cover as police swarmed the scene

CNN  — 

Panic spread quickly inside the crowded café.

Someone sprinted through the doors with a dire warning: “There is a man with a knife up there, and he’s coming this way.”

“Everyone ran to the back of the restaurant and crouched down, trying to hide themselves from view,” witness Elsbeth Smedley told CNN.

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Smedley was among the crowd taking shelter inside Elliot’s, a café just a few blocks south of London Bridge.

A man with a “massive knife” charged into the restaurant, Smedley said. And some people weren’t able to escape.

His target: a waitress hiding behind a partition.

“He stabbed her in the neck,” Smedley said. “He stabbed another man in the back, and then he ran out of the restaurant.”

Some inside the restaurant thought there might have been another man armed with a knife, too, Smedley said, but it was too chaotic to see clearly.

The stabbing rampage was part of a terror attack Saturday night. A few blocks away, a van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge.

Seven people were killed and 48 others wounded, police said. The three attackers were shot dead.

As authorities work to piece together what happened, witness accounts paint a harrowing picture of the panic that spread across the popular Borough Market pub and restaurant neighborhood.

‘Everyone kept down’

Simon Thompson said he saw chaos near the main entrance to the market.

“People started running and shouting,” he said. “It’s a bit of a blur, but I saw people on the floor. A taxi driver began screaming for people to run, and everyone did.”

Video from inside a nearby bar shows people flattening themselves on the ground as police shout at them to take cover – fast.

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Bar patrons scramble, take cover
00:48 - Source: CNN

“They told us to remain on the floor, but to stay calm,” said Paul Connell, who was having drinks with friends at Katzenjammers bar when officers rushed in.

Down the street, the owner of Applebee’s Fish Market scrambled to pull down metal shutters at the front to protect people inside his restaurant.

“About five minutes later, there were gunshots everywhere,” Jack Applebee told CNN.

Outside, Applebee said, one of his colleagues had spotted men wearing what he feared were suicide vests.

For 90 minutes, everyone huddled upstairs. Gunshots erupted six or seven times, he said.

“Everyone kept down. Just sort of – just trying to keep everyone okay,” he said. “It was just crazy.”

A witness photo taken on the street near his restaurant showed what appeared to be two suspects on the ground.

‘The van was aiming at the people’

One thought ran through Mark Roberts’ mind as he watched a car plow into pedestrians on London Bridge Saturday night.

“Which direction should I run?”

Roberts froze as he saw a van swerve into oncoming lanes and strike a crowd of people at the iconic site. One person, he said, flew 20 feet in the air.

“It looked to me that the van was aiming at the people,” he said.

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Witness: Van hit pedestrians on bridge
02:47 - Source: CNN

Police and emergency vehicles rushed to the scene.

“I heard a boom behind me,” said Brad Myers, who was underneath the bridge snapping photos.

From Sun Journo Alan Felton inside News Building on London Bridge. We can use but don't credit as Sun Journalist. Van is crashed and Alan can see police swarming around it
Witness: Someone jumped off bridge into water
01:12 - Source: CNN

Myers said he saw a white vehicle slam into the guard rail, then plow into a group of pedestrians he’d been standing alongside only a few minutes earlier.

As the horrifying scene unfolded, Myers said he saw one person’s desperate attempt to escape the attack.

Someone jumped off the bridge, he said, and into the water below.

CNN’s Paul P. Murphy, Amanda Jackson, Donie O’Sullivan, Steve Almasy, Ralph Ellis and Natalie Gallon contributed to this report.