Stranger takes woman hostage
A woman escaped unharmed after an armed stranger grabbed her and held her hostage in an Auckland shopping mall for 90 minutes.
Video from the scene showed police surrounding an agitated man, who held what police believe to be a five-inch blade to the neck of a woman in the Manukau City shopping centre.
Police charged a 30-year-old man with kidnapping in relation to the incident. Further footage showed officers outside the building closing in on the incident, in the food court, about 9am yesterday.
The assailant had an arm around the woman’s throat and was holding the knife to her neck with his other hand. The hostage was crying.
Counties Manukau Area Commander Inspector Adam Pyne confirmed the 34-year-old victim was unknown to the offender.
‘‘This was a very distressing incident for the victim and extremely hard for her.’’
The woman was from Christchurch and had been at the shopping mall with her teenage daughter, Pyne said. ‘‘We’re offering the victim all the support we can and she was extremely brave and managed to remain calm.’’
Pyne said no threats were made by the man.
Police staff negotiated with the offender for about 40 minutes before he dropped his knife on the ground and released the victim.
A woman who took footage from outside the building, said the man had already taken the woman hostage when she arrived at 8.55am.
‘‘When I first saw what was happening, I thought: this is a sick joke, a guy wanting attention.
‘‘I started taking it serious when I could see the woman crying and her daughter was watching everything next to me.’’ She said the daughter was crying also.
A food court worker said a middleaged man had entered the food court in an agitated, apparently drunk and disoriented state. She said his behaviour caught the attention of the security personnel and they started to move in on him – clearing shoppers from the area.
He then reached into his clothing, she said, allegedly pulling out a knife before holding it to the neck of a woman queuing for food. The food court worker said the woman had her back to the man, so she didn’t see what was happening before he grabbed her.
The entire mall was evacuated.
A woman was held hostage at Westfield Mall in Manukau, Auckland.