LONDON (CBS News) – London’s Metropolitan Police said Tuesday that a man was under arrest on suspicion of terrorism after driving through a group of pedestrians and then ramming a gate outside of the Houses of Parliament in the British capital.
Police said that they were treating the crash as a terrorist incident, and noted that the investigation was being led by their counter-terrorism division.
“The driver of the car, a man in his late 20s, was arrested at the scene by armed officers. He was arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement, adding that there was nobody else in the vehicle at the time of the crash and that no weapons were found.
Streets in the area surrounding the British legislature were closed to traffic during peak morning rush hour, and there was a heavy police presence. London’s ambulance service said that it treated two people at the scene, and they were later taken to an area hospital for further evaluation. Their injuries were not believed to be serious.
Witnesses told British television networks that they saw the car driving toward Parliament at high speed. Video captured by a security camera with a high vantage point, aired by BBC News, showed the car abruptly turning across several lanes of rush hour traffic and entering the security channel outside of parliament, appearing to accelerate before slamming into the barrier.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told reporters later Tuesday morning that only one of the three pedestrians injured in the incident remained in hospital.
Basu stated that it was being treated as a “terrorist incident” as it “appears to be a deliberate act” at the iconic site, but he added that, “no other suspects have been identified or reported to police” and that there was not believed to be a further danger to the public in connection with the incident. He said that the priority for investigators was to identify the suspect and his motives, but that he was “not fully cooperating” with police.
“I think it looked intentional — the car drove at speed and towards the barriers,” witness Ewalina Ochab told Britain’s Press Association. “I was walking on the other side [of the road]. I heard some noise and someone screamed. I turned around and I saw a silver car driving very fast close to the railings, maybe even on the pavement,” she said.
Barry Williams, another witness, told BBC News that he saw the silver car “heading towards cyclists” while driving on the wrong side of the road. He said that the cyclists were waiting for the lights to change, adding, “He hit the cyclists and then swerved over towards the safety barrier… and accelerated and hit it at quite high speed.”
The vehicle involved, a small silver Ford hatchback, could be seen with its front end smashed into the security barrier at a vehicle security checkpoint in the parliament perimeter fence.
CBS News correspondent Debora Patta noted that most British lawmakers were not at work Tuesday, they on their summer vacations, and that the area would normally have been much busier.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan sent a tweet thanking the city’s first responders for their quick response to the incident. British Prime Minister Theresa May also sent a tweet thanking the emergency services and saying that her thoughts were with those injured in the incident.
U.S. President Donald Trump also reacted to the incident, calling it “yet another terrorist attack in London,” and calling for “these animals” to be “dealt with through toughness and strength.”