London’s metropolitan police responded at 2:40 p.m. after an attacker ran over pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge, located near the Parliament building.
Mark Rowley, acting deputy commissioner and national lead for counter terrorism, said in a statement the lockdown within the Parliament building has since been lifted.
Alec Fischbein, a UNC sophomore on the Honors London program at Winston House, was led to a secure room after gunshots were heard. Fischbein is interning with Tom Brake, a member of the U.K. parliament, and was in the building at the time of the attack.
“From where we were, we could see the Westminster Bridge and the Palace of Westminster,” he said. “We saw the police presence grow and the street slowly get shut down and all the people leave.”
The police later escorted them out of the building in response to a potential bomb threat.
Sophomore Melanie Langness, also on the UNC study abroad program and interning for the parliament, said she will go back to work this week unless told otherwise.
Five deaths and approximately 40 injuries have been confirmed, Rowley said — which include the fatal stabbing of police officer Keith Palmer and the shooting of the attacker by police.
“(Palmer) was someone who left for work today expecting to return home at the end of his shift and he had every right to expect that would happen,” Rowley said.
Annie Smith, a junior studying abroad at King’s College London, said the UNC study abroad department emailed her to confirm she was OK.
Since the attack, Smith said she has interacted with roommates and friends who were uneasy.
Rowley said investigators will work through the night.
“As a precautionary measure, we have increased the number of officers on duty to provide a highly visible reassurance presence — both armed and unarmed — across the country,” he said.