Police blame a lone wolf terrorist for a deadly stabbing attack that unfolded on Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD on Friday afternoon.
One victim was killed and two others injured after being stabbed by a man who set his ute alight outside the Target store near the busy intersection of Bourke and Swanston streets.
The attacker, who was a Somali community member known to ASIO, was shot by police after he repeatedly lunged at them with a knife.
He was taken to hospital in a critical condition, but died on the operating table.
A relative of the man was arrested on terror-related charges last year. However, sources said there had been no intelligence from counter-terror authorities about any serious threat.
Two victims are in hospital, including one in a critical condition with a neck injury and another with a head injury.
The centre of Melbourne’s CBD remains in lockdown after horrific scenes unfolded about 4.30pm, sending Friday afternoon shoppers and commuters running for safety.
However, some bystanders risked their own lives to help police stop the attacker. One man tried to repeatedly ram the attacker with a shopping trolley, while another used a traffic cone to fend him off.
A large crowd of people also stood and filmed the man’s confrontation with police.
How the attack unfolded
Superintendent David Clayton said police received reports that a vehicle was on fire in Bourke Street about 4.30pm.
“Nearby police quickly responded to the incident. As they got out of the car they were confronted by a male brandishing a knife and threatening them. At the same time passers-by were calling out that members of the public had been stabbed,” Superintendent Clayton said.
“Police shot the male in the chest and he is now in a critical condition under [police] guard in hospital.
“Three people have been stabbed. Unfortunately one is deceased at the scene. Two other victims are currently in hospital. The bomb response unit have cordoned off the area.”
The man stopped his dual-cab ute on Bourke Street, not far from the Target store near the intersection of Swanston Street, and set it alight.
He then started attacking people with a knife, stabbing at least three people.
In a desperate attempt to stop the attacker, one man tried to push a trolley into him. That man was pushed over onto the street, but got up again to try to fend the attack off. Another man tried to ward him off with a traffic cone.
Transit officers were the first to respond, with one officer using a tree to protect himself from the attacker as he lunged at them with the knife.
The attacker was then shot in the chest by police, before he was arrested and taken to hospital.
By 5.20pm, the body of one of the victims was lying under a white sheet on Bourke Street surrounded by police tape, near the entrance to Russell Place. There were large spots of what appeared to be blood near the body, as were a pair of men’s black lace-up shoes.
About 6pm, police confirmed the victim had died.
Later in the evening, witnesses were being taken to Melbourne West police station in police vans, some looking quite shaken.
There were two dozen people in the foyer waiting to give witness statements to the police. Most sat in three rows of chairs, before being called to one of six tables set up by police.
One man briefly exited the building to greet a woman. He looked shaken as he hugged her – one sleeve of his white jumper was stained with dried blood.