By Catherine E. Shoichet
(CNN) — Panic spread quickly inside the crowded cafe.
Someone sprinted through the doors with a dire warning: “There is a man with a knife up there, and he’s coming this way.”
“Everyone ran to the back of the restaurant and crouched down, trying to hide themselves from view,” witness Elsbeth Smedley told CNN.
Smedley was among the crowd taking shelter inside Elliot’s, a café just a few blocks south of London Bridge.
A man with a massive knife charged into the restaurant, Smedley said. And some people weren’t able to escape.
His target: a waitress hiding behind a partition.
“He stabbed her in the neck,” Smedley said. “He stabbed another man in the back, and then he ran out of the restaurant.”
Some inside the restaurant thought there might have been another man armed with a knife, too, Smedley said, but it was too chaotic to see clearly.
The stabbing rampage was part of what appeared to be a coordinated terror attack Saturday night. A few blocks away, a van mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge.
As authorities work to piece together what happened, witness accounts paint a harrowing picture of the panic that spread across the popular Borough Market pub and restaurant neighborhood Saturday night.
‘Everyone kept down’
Video from inside a nearby bar shows people flattening themselves on the ground as police shout at them to take cover — fast.
Jack Applebee said he rushed to pull down metal shutters at the front of his restaurant to protect people inside.
Outside, he said, one of his colleagues had spotted men wearing what he feared were suicide vests.
“About five minutes later, there were gunshots everywhere,” Applebee said.
For 90 minutes, everyone huddled upstairs. Gunshots erupted six or seven times, he said.
“Everyone kept down. Just sort of — just trying to keep everyone okay,” he said. “It was just crazy.”
‘Which direction should I run?’
One thought ran through Mark Roberts’ mind as he watched a car plow into pedestrians on London Bridge Saturday night.
“Which direction should I run?”
Roberts froze as he saw a van swerve into oncoming lanes and strike a crowd of people at the iconic site. One person, he said, flew 20 feet in the air.
“I heard a boom behind me,” said Brad Myers, who was underneath the bridge snapping photos.
Myers said he saw a white vehicle slam into the guard rail, then plow into a group of pedestrians he’d been standing alongside only a few minutes earlier.
As the horrifying scene unfolded, Myers said he saw one person’s desperate attempt to escape the attack.
Someone jumped off the bridge, he said, and into the water below.
CNN’s Paul P. Murphy, Amanda Jackson and Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.
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