The attack was declared a terrorist incident and police believe it to be “Islamist-related,” according to London’s Metropolitan Police.
Gabriel Vigo, a 24-year-old security officer at London’s Heathrow Airport who lives in the Streatham area, told CNN he heard a few shots. From the window of his flat, he saw three bodies on the floor.
“The road was quickly closed too and there was a body next to Boots with something that looked like a device strapped to him,” he told CNN. “It was square-shaped but it looked like it was taped to his shirt.”
Another eyewitness, Gulled Bulhan, a 19-year-old student from Streatham, told PA news agency that the man had a “machete and silver canisters on his chest.”
Bulhan told PA he saw the man “being chased by what I assume was an undercover police officer — as they were in civilian clothing.”
The London Ambulance Service said it was called to the scene shortly before 2 p.m.
“We worked closely with the other emergency services and sent a number of resources, including five ambulance crews, an advanced paramedic practitioner, an incident response officer and a motorcycle responder, with the first of our medics arriving in four minutes. We also dispatched London’s Air Ambulance,” a statement said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked the emergency services responding to the incident in Streatham. “My thoughts are with the injured and all those affected,” the PM tweeted.
Streatham Member of Parliament Bell Ribeiro-Addy told CNN that the attack in her constituency is “very sad and also quite scary.” She said Streatham is a “wonderful community, extremely diverse and we haven’t had an issue like this, as far back as I can remember and I’ve lived here my entire life.”
Videos shared on social media showed a number of ambulance and police cars at the scene.
Local resident Dan Smith, who was at the scene, told CNN he saw an ambulance helicopter landing on Tooting Common outside his flat.
“On the High Road there was a huge police presence and a wave of ambulances/paramedics arriving. Armed police behind the cordon and everyone was told to remove back,” he told CNN in a message.
Streatham High Road is a busy shopping street. Police have told people to stay away from the area and “use restraint in circulating pictures and videos” of the incident, including images of the officers involved.
The road remained closed even after police said the incident was contained.
CNN’s Sarah Dean, Sharon Braithwaite and Hadas Gold contributed reporting.