HEROES CHARGE KNIFE AT­TACKER

‘EV­ERY­ONE WAS RUN­NING AWAY AND I RAN TO­WARD HIM’

Herald Sun - - TER­ROR ON BOURKE ST - ANEEKA SIMONIS, STEPHEN DRILL AND CAITLIN GUILFOYLE an­neeka.simonis@news.com.au

HEROIC Mel­bur­ni­ans used a shop­ping trol­ley, a chair and the base of a traf­fic cone to con­front a knife-wield­ing at­tacker, who had just stabbed three peo­ple.

Risk­ing their lives, the passers-by leapt into ac­tion to help po­lice who were try­ing to dis­arm the man in Bourke St yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, wit­ness footage shows.

A man wear­ing a black shirt pushes a shop­ping trol­ley at the at­tacker forc­ing him to re­treat to the other side of the road as po­lice fol­low him.

He then fol­lows him across the street and pushes the trol­ley at him again.

A sec­ond man wear­ing a navy suit jacket and black pants then con­fronts the man with a chair raised above his head.

And a third man, wear­ing a red-checked shirt, comes in from an­other di­rec­tion car­ry­ing the base of a traf­fic cone as a po­lice of­fi­cer fires one shot in the man’s chest, caus­ing him to fall to the ground. The man car­ry­ing the traf­fic cone told the Her­ald Sun that the at­tacker, who was dressed in flow­ing robes, had “crazy eyes”.

“The cops were back­ing off, but he kept com­ing at them,” said the wit­ness.

He said that by­standers were scream­ing at po­lice to “shoot him, shoot him”.

“He had crazy eyes. Ev­ery­one was run­ning away and I ran to­ward him.

“I picked up a rub­ber weight (traf­fic cone base) and ran to­ward him.”

Wit­ness Piper Gil­son said the scene was ter­ri­fy­ing.

“We were prob­a­bly 15m from the car, then all of sud­den a loud bang, — a loud ‘bomb’ bang,” she said.

“We looked over and we could see the heat­wave com­ing up. It started to smoke and roll and that’s when the flames re- ally came up. The man who died, we saw him on the floor, hold­ing his chest, cov­ered in blood and the se­cu­rity guard, he had blood all over him and he was just walk­ing in shock. Some peo­ple were yelling out ‘It’s a ter­ror at­tack’. Some peo­ple were scream­ing call the cops.”

The brave Mel­bur­ni­ans ap­proached the scene while the at­tacker’s Holden ute was on fire be­hind them, adding to the risk to their safety.

It was un­der­stood gas cylin­ders were used in the ex­plo­sion, with po­lice ini­tially wor­ried that there could be fur­ther ex­plo­sions.

Po­lice shot the at­tacker, who fell to the ground as shocked wit­nesses looked on.

He was then hand­cuffed and ar­rested as more po­lice ar­rived. Paramedics worked on him at the scene and he was taken to hos­pi­tal but he died last night.

The two po­lice of­fi­cers who ap­proached the man were ex- pected to give state­ments to po­lice last night as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria praised their ef­forts un­der ex­treme cir­cum­stances.

“We are proud of the courage, poise and self­less­ness of our mem­bers in Bourke St this af­ter­noon,” it said in a state­ment last night.

“TPAV has been in con­tact with them to of­fer any as­sis­tance they re­quire.

“They were all that stood be­tween ex­treme dan­ger and po­ten­tially more in­no­cent vic­tims. They did their job.”

The car­nage hap­pened as stu­dents from a nearby RMIT Univer­sity build­ing hud­dled in the foyer.

Some filmed the scenes on their mo­bile phones and shared them via so­cial me­dia chan­nel Wechat.

A large group of pedes­tri­ans watched the hor­ror un­fold from a tram stop near the cor­ner of Bourke and Swanston streets. And many CBD of­fice work­ers had been walk­ing through the city or stop­ping at nearby cafes and shops.

Po­lice ar­rived in waves, with uni­form ar­riv­ing first then spe­cial­ist po­lice with heavy weapons amid fears that the at­tacker may not have acted alone.

The ter­ri­fy­ing in­ci­dent hap­pened on the same street as an­other at­tack in Jan­uary 2017, when James Gar­ga­soulas al­legedly drove through pedes­tri­ans killing six peo­ple.

That case was be­ing heard in the Supreme Court yes­ter­day, shortly be­fore the lat­est ram­page.

Po­lice warned peo­ple to stay clear of the CBD fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent and the bomb squad was called in to check that there was no fur­ther ex­plo­sives in the ute.

Michael, of the Trea­sure Star Karaoke Bar on Bourke St, said he was fright­ened.

“We just heard the ex­plo­sion and we closed the shop,” he said.

“There was a gun sound, there was one or two gun­shots.”

Neapoli Wine Bar in Rus­sell Place has been closed, with staff re­main­ing there and wait­ing for fur­ther in­struc­tions from po­lice.

Sam, from the cafe, said: “There was just a lot of bangs. There’s only staff here, po­lice told us to stay.”

Some peo­ple had fled into the cafe when they heard the ex­plo­sion and hid in the kitchen. Carl­ton Club Ho­tel par­tons were also locked down but a staff mem­ber told the Her­ald Sun they were safe.

The ter­ror pub­lic ser­vice sys­tem sirens, which were in­stalled fol­low­ing the 2017 Bourke St at­tack, were sounded about 6pm to de­clare the in­ci­dent clear.

But po­lice ex­clu­sion zones along Bourke St be­tween Rus­sell and Swanston streets were ex­pected to re­main in place last night.

Bourke Street erupts into a scene of chaos and car­nage as a Holden ute, re­port­edly stocked with gas cylin­ders, ex­plodes in a ball of flames. Po­lice of­fi­cers and de­tec­tives later flooded the scene, cov­er­ing a fa­tally stabbed vic­tim in a white sheet. Pic­tures: STU­ART GAUT, JA­SON ED­WARDS, AFP

Po­lice and heroic by­standers at­tempt to sub­due the knife-wield­ing at­tacker in Bourke St yes­ter­day and (be­low left) the at­tacker’s Holden ute at the scene. Pic­tures: STU­ART GAUT, JA­SON ED­WARDS

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