Vi­o­lent Is­lam strikes Bourke St

ONE DEAD AF­TER THREE STABBED IN MEL­BOURNE KILLER SHOT BY PO­LICE, DIES IN HOS­PI­TAL SO­MALI OF­FENDER A PER­SON OF IN­TER­EST

The Weekend Australian - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN FER­GU­SON SA­MAN­THA HUTCHIN­SON TESSA AKERMAN

The ter­ror­ist who drove a burn­ing ute into the heart of Mel­bourne’s Bourke Street yes­ter­day and stabbed three peo­ple, killing one, had links to Is­lamic ex­trem­ists, was a per­son of in­ter­est to Vic­to­ria Po­lice and was known to fed­eral in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

The killer was shot in the chest at close range by po­lice af­ter his four-wheel drive, full of gas cylin­ders, ex­ploded on Bourke Street near the mall.

The Week­end Aus­tralian un­der­stands po­lice will in­ves­ti­gate whether the killer, who died in Royal Mel­bourne Hos­pi­tal last night, had links to Is­lamic ex­trem­ism and rad­i­calised mem­bers of the So­mali com­mu­nity.

Vic­to­ria Po­lice Chief Com­mis­sioner Gra­ham Ash­ton last night con­firmed the in­ci­dent was ter­ror­ism and that the killer, who ar­rived in Aus­tralia from So­ma­lia in the 1990s, had rel­a­tives who were per­sons of in­ter­est to Vic­to­ria Po­lice.

The killer was also known to fed­eral se­cu­rity agen­cies, he said.

“We are treat­ing this as a ter­ror­ism in­ci­dent,” Mr Ash­ton said.

“In re­la­tion to that per­son, he is known to po­lice. And he’s known to po­lice, mainly in re­spect to rel­a­tives he has that are cer­tainly per­sons of in­ter­est to us.

“He’s some­one that ac­cord­ingly is known both to Vic­to­ria Po­lice and to the fed­eral in­tel­li­gence au­thor­i­ties.”

Premier Daniel An­drews said last night: “Th­ese are trau­matic events, they are ter­ri­fy­ing.”

Hun­dreds of stunned on­look­ers had watched as the tall, heavy­set man wear­ing a tu­nic stum­bled on to Bourke Street about 4.10pm, bran­dish­ing a large knife.

On­look­ers said the stab­bing vic­tim had ap­proached the at­tacker af­ter the four-wheel drive mounted the foot­path.

The vic­tim was then fa­tally stabbed in the chest.

An­other vic­tim was re­port­edly stabbed in the neck.

Two po­lice, with two civil­ian on­look­ers cir­cling, then at­tempted to calm the at­tacker but he lunged mul­ti­ple times at an of­fi­cer be­fore his part­ner shot him at close range in the chest.

Two other rapid-re­sponse po­lice pounced on the man as blood from his wound leaked on to the foot­path.

It was the third hor­rific po­lice in­ci­dent in­volv­ing a ve­hi­cle and mul­ti­ple ca­su­al­ties in the cen­tre of Mel­bourne in fewer than two years.

Su­per­in­ten­dent David Clay­ton said the first po­lice on the scene had been con­fronted by the man, as the four-wheel drive Holden Rodeo sat blaz­ing on the op­po­site foot­path.

“As they got out of the car, they were con­fronted by a man bran­dish­ing a knife and threat­en­ing them,” he said.

“At the same time, passers-by were call­ing out that mem­bers of the pub­lic had been stabbed. “Po­lice shot the man.” Mul­ti­ple videos emerged on so­cial me­dia of the at­tacker lung­ing sev­eral times at po­lice of­fi­cers, ap­par­ently with a knife, be­fore the sec­ond of­fi­cer shot him at very close range.

In the videos, one of the two civil­ians along­side the po­lice of­fi­cers is seen try­ing to dis­able the man with a shop­ping trol­ley, while the other is car­ry­ing a wooden chair.

Other footage shows the at­tacker be­ing physcially re­strained by po­lice, af­ter be­ing shot.

Footage taken be­fore the at­tacker is shot shows the ute slowly pro­gress­ing down the Bourke Street hill, with its roof ablaze.

The ve­hi­cle then mounts the kerb and ex­plodes in a ball of flames, spark­ing fears of a bomb.

Alex Dick­in­son, 33, was walk­ing to the hair­dresser on Bourke Street mall when he saw a man ap­proach the car.

“This by­stander ... went to see if he was OK, then some­one jumped out of the car and he was car­ry­ing a knife,” Mr Dick­in­son said.

“We looked up and saw a six­foot black dude with no hair.”

Wit­ness Ana Kostakos told the Her­ald Sun “Po­lice tried hard to beat him down with a ba­ton but he wasn’t giv­ing in, he wasn’t even run­ning away — he was go­ing to­wards them.

“There was a guy with a shop­ping trol­ley try­ing to help but every­body was run­ning in all direc­tions.

“Peo­ple were try­ing to help vic­tims be­cause he was just knif­ing at ran­dom.

“The se­cu­rity (guard) from the build­ing next door was also stabbed, but I saw he was sit­ting up so we know he sur­vived.”

Univer­sity of Mel­bourne com­merce stu­dent Daniel Rachvuch, 20, who nar­rowly sur­vived the Barcelona ter­ror at­tack in Au­gust last year, said he was “sit­ting 20m away when I heard this ex­plo­sion, and it was a car that was en­gulfed in flames”.

He saw the driver nearby and “(he) was wield­ing a knife, run­ning around the po­lice, ten­ta­tively look­ing at them be­fore lung­ing at one of them, then de­cid­ing to back off and run into a shop,” Mr Rachvuch told The Week­end Aus­tralian.

“The car was still rag­ing with flames.

“He was yelling at the po­lice of­fi­cers, he looked very dis­tressed.

“I was in the ter­ror­ist at­tack in Barcelona when the car missed me by a cou­ple of me­tres; now in the Mel­bourne CBD, where you think it would never hap­pen.’’

Mr Dick­in­son’s friend Tony Nguyen, 26, a ra­di­og­ra­phy stu­dent, said the killer’s weapon looked like a kitchen knife “and that’s when we ran”.

‘(He) was wield­ing a knife, run­ning around the po­lice, ten­ta­tively look­ing at them be­fore lung­ing at one of them’ DANIEL RACHVUCH WIT­NESS

Markel Vil­lasin, 22, was fin­ish­ing his shift at KFC on Bourke Street as the drama un­folded.

“Me and the man­agers ran out and that’s when we saw the car on fire and then we saw the guy on the floor and we wanted to help,” Mr Vil­lasin said.

“There were two blokes help­ing him out al­ready — he was face-down (with) pools of blood around his face.

“I’m pretty sure he got stabbed in the face.

“I re­ally wanted to help but I was in shock, I didn’t know what to do. Be­cause he was on his stom­ach, they turned him over to see if he’s all right. He was still alive.”

A po­lice­man con­fronts the killer as his ute burns on the foot­path; top right, the killer tries to stab an of­fi­cer; bot­tom right, po­lice tackle him to the ground af­ter shoot­ing him in the chest

MAIN PIC­TURE: CHRIS MACHERAS

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