THE bodyguard of a government minister broke down as he told an inquest how he shot dead Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood as he believed ‘he was going to kill me’.
The close protection officer, identified only as SA74, shot the knifeman three times with his Glock pistol outside the Palace of Westminster on March 22 last year.
Masood had just killed four people and seriously injured 29 others when he mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge with an SUV before knifing unarmed PC Keith Palmer to death outside Parliament.
The rampage took just 82 seconds and ended when two close protection officers ran towards Masood with guns drawn and shouting warnings before SA74 opened fire.
Both were granted anonymity at Masood’s inquest, with the media allowed only to listen to proceedings via video link.
SA74 told the hearing at the Old Bailey he heard a loud ‘explosion’ as 52-year-old Masood’s car crashed, then heard the shouts of police officers as they ran towards him.
‘The uniformed police had batons drawn. The batons were extended and they were frantically moving towards me trying to get away from something or someone,’ he said.
‘I did not know what was happening but I was certain that something terrible was happening.’
His voice wavered and he was audibly emotional as he continued: ‘I saw a large black male running purposefully towards me. He was carrying two large knives and I could clearly see that they were covered in blood. He was going to kill me.
‘As soon as I saw that threat, my pistol was drawn and I was pointing it at him. After shouting at him to drop the knives and perceiving no change in his demeanour, I fired the pistol. It was a quick succession of shots fired until that threat was no longer present.’ His colleague, known as SB73, risked his own safety to handcuff the attacker and try to save his life while he lay dying on the floor.
Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner, asked him: ‘Is it right to say there was a risk he might have a bomb?’ The officer agreed.
Hugo Keith QC, for the Metropolitan Police, suggested to SA74 that he had no option but to shoot to prevent Masood killing him and others. The officer said: ‘Yes.’ SA74 also carried out his duty to help the mortally injured suspect, the court heard.
The jury was shown CCTV of the pair, their faces blurred, running through New Palace Yard towards the threat apparently shouting warnings at Masood. Each has an arm outstretched, holding a handgun.
Masood’s victims were Pc Palmer, 48, American tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, retired window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75, mother-of-two Aysha Frade, 44, and Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, 31.
The inquest continues.