HEROES CHARGE KNIFE ATTACKER
‘EVERYONE WAS RUNNING AWAY AND I RAN TOWARD HIM’
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