Local News

UNC terrorism expert: Attacks like London 'should not be surprises'

Posted June 5, 2017 5:27 p.m. EDT
Updated June 5, 2017 7:03 p.m. EDT

Saturday's terror attack in London has affected people across the globe.

Dr. David Gray, a terrorism expert and professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said a main concern is the way in which the attack happened – terrorists using a vehicle and handheld weapons.

The attack unfolded over a few minutes: First, a rented van veered off the road and drove into pedestrians on the busy London Bridge. Three men wielding large knives got out of the van and attacked people at bars and restaurants in the popular Borough Market. The men killed seven people and injured roughly 50 before they were shot dead by police.

"Bad guys who want to do bad things have to resort to techniques that they can get through or penetrate the security," Gray said. "It is things like vans and knives that will get through."

A few hours before the terror attacks, Duke alumna Langley Ellmann and her husband crossed London Bridge.

"It is definitely spooky and so sad, obviously, for everyone that was there a little bit after us and was involved," Ellmann said.

Ellmann even thought about the fact that it was a prime spot for terrorism.

"When it is that close it strikes a little harder I guess," she said. "At the end of the day nobody knows, nobody can control this kind of thing and that's why it is so terrifying, so scary."

Gray said at this point, "these types of things should not be surprises."

"This is a natural progression for the bad guys...to be using or resorting to these types of methods," he said. "They put up barriers and there are a lot of cameras. There is a heavy police presence, but still, it is really hard to stop a vehicle."

Ellmann said she will not be deterred.

"You have your job and your friends and your life, and you do have to keep going," she said.

"I still think it is safe for Americans to go, but Americans have to, or anyone else for that matter, you have to pay attention," Gray said. "You've got to be alert. You're got to be aware of your surroundings."

North Carolina State University and UNC-Chapel Hill said they are not making any changes to summer study aboard programs for students at this time.