Woman taken hostage in mall
A woman escaped unharmed after an armed stranger grabbed her and held her hostage in an Auckland shopping mall for 90 minutes yesterday.
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 Westfield Manukau City Shopping Centre.
Police have arrested and 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, near the Burger King in the food court, just after 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.
The offender was immediately apprehended and taken into custody without further incident, Pyne said.
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 seriously when I could see the woman crying and her daughter was watching everything next to me.’’
She said the daughter was crying as well. ‘‘I was just hoping the woman didn’t get hurt.’’
A food court worker said it unfolded when a middle-aged man entered the food court in an agitated, apparently drunk and disoriented state.
The mall was evacuated at 9am but reopened around noon.
A woman being held hostage at the Westfield mall in Manukau, Auckland.