Stranger takes woman hostage

The Southland Times - - National - Stuff re­porters

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.

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