The imam of a London mosque told reporters on Monday that he helped prevent a mob from assaulting the suspect in an alleged terrorist attack that left 10 Muslim worshippers injured.
Mohammed Mahmoud, of the Muslim Welfare House, said the group gathered around a man later identified by British media as 47-year-old Darren Osborne after he careened into a crowd of people who had just finished Ramadan prayers.
The apparent attack, which London Mayor Sadiq Khan called a "horrific" act of terrorism, occurred at 12:20 a.m. local time (7:20 p.m. ET).
“Some of them tried to hit him, either kicks or punches,” Mahmoud said. “By God’s grace we managed to surround him and protect him from any harm. We stopped all forms of attack and abuse towards him that were coming from every angle.”
Witnesses told NBC News that after Osborne crashed the van, he bit, laughed at and spit on bystanders who were trying to get him out of the vehicle. And witness Khalid Amin told the BBC that he heard him shout "kill all Muslims."
“People were very angry," one witness, Saeed Hasm, told NBC News. "They were smashing bottles, they wanted to hit him.”
As people tended to the injured and tried to calm the cascading tension, a police van drove by, Mahmoud said.
“We told them the situation — that there’s a man, he’s restrained, he mowed down a group of people with his van and there’s a mob attempting to hurt him,” Mahmoud said.
“If you don’t take him,” he recalled saying, “God forbid he might be seriously hurt.”
Osborne was taken into custody and arrested for attempted murder. Later Monday, London Metropolitan Police said he was charged with the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder.