Greater than a dozen folks have been hospitalised after a automobile rammed into pedestrians in Melbourne’s metropolis centre in a “horrific and evil” incident, Victoria’s premier has mentioned.
A white four-wheel drive car drove via pedestrians at Flinders and Elizabeth Streets shortly at four:41pm native time (12.41am ET).
Two males had been arrested on the scene, one by an off-duty police officer and the opposite by officers with the Vital Incident Response Group.
The motive force of the automobile has been recognized as a 32-year-old Australian man of Afghan descent, performing police commissioner Shane Patton mentioned in a press convention. He confirmed that officers consider the act to have been “deliberate”.
He mentioned the person was identified to Victoria police and had a “historical past of drug use and psychological well being points”. Patton mentioned he was on a psychological well being plan, and was receiving remedy on the time of the incident.
“Presently we do not need any proof for any intelligence to point there’s a reference to terrorism,” Patton mentioned. “Having mentioned that, nevertheless, we proceed to assist this investigation with out counterterrorism command to make sure that there isn’t that connection and that there isn’t any ongoing menace.”
Patton mentioned officers had been glad that the person was the one particular person within the automobile, which was registered to a member of the family. The person is at present being handled in hospital and is in a steady situation.
He urged reporters to not confer with the incident as a “lone wolf assault”. He mentioned it was “an horrific incident the place an individual drove instantly at pedestrians”.
“It’s a crime and we will likely be absolutely exploring that,” Patton mentioned. “One of many key points we’re exploring is in respect to psychological well being backgrounds and drug use in respect of this particular person.”
A 24-year-old man was additionally arrested on the scene, after he was seen filming within the moments after the incident. Three knives had been present in his bag. He was not identified to police, and he stays in custody. Patton confirmed that to date officers had been unable to search out “any relationship” between him and the motive force, however that he was aiding police with inquiries.
Patton reiterated they didn’t consider the incident was linked to terrorism, and mentioned officers had been treating it as a “quarantined” and “singular” occasion. “We’re asking everybody to come back in, go to the cricket, go to the carols,” he mentioned.
Victoria premier Daniel Andrews referred to as the incident an “act of evil and an act of cowardice”.
He confirmed that 19 folks had been taken to hospital following the incident. 4 folks had been in vital care and 15 – together with the 32-year-old alleged offender – had been in a steady situation.
Andrews mentioned he was in contact with the prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was monitoring the scenario, and had spoken to him twice this night.
Earlier, the PM condemned the “surprising incident”, saying in a press release that his “ideas and prayers are with the victims and the emergency and well being staff who’re treating them”.
Chief of the opposition Invoice Shorten tweeted following the “surprising” incident. “Pondering of everybody caught up on this atrocity,” he mentioned.
A preschool-aged little one with a head harm was taken to the Royal Youngsters’s Hospital, ABC Information reported. That little one, who has not been named, is now reported to be in a steady situation.
9 folks have been taken to the Alfred Hospital, two of who’re in a vital situation, and the Royal Melbourne Hospital is treating seven sufferers, two of whom are additionally vital. There are an additional two folks being handled on the St Vincent Hospital, neither of whom are in vital situation, Andrews mentioned.
A criminal offense scene has been established, and detectives from the Crime Command are main the investigation, Victoria Police mentioned in a press release.
A witness who recognized himself as John instructed the ABC that he noticed the SUV touring “at excessive velocity” and “hitting folks.”
“I noticed a automobile, an SUV coming at excessive velocity and actually simply heard the collision with folks with baggage and what have to be purchasing trolleys – and I hope not prams,” he instructed ABC Radio Melbourne. “I’ve actually by no means seen something like this earlier than and I have never stopped shaking.”
Witness Sue Nicolaidis instructed the Herald Solar she was working at Walker’s Doughnuts when she heard a loud noise and a automobile screeching down Flinders Road.
“We heard this noise and we regarded up then we simply heard bang, bang, bang, and other people flying in every single place,” Nicolaidis mentioned. “There was simply folks on the bottom, not shifting, folks screaming, it is rather like a nightmare.”
One other witness, talking to the Age, mentioned there was “blood in every single place” when she arrived at Flinders Road shortly after the incident.
Public transportation within the space is disrupted, and police proceed to advise folks to keep away from the world. Police and emergency responders will stay on the scene for the “foreseeable future”, a police spokesperson mentioned.
Commuters have been instructed to go to Melbourne Central Station. Yarra Trams cancelled providers to the world, as per a request from emergency providers, though some providers have resumed with vital delays, Metro Trains tweeted.
Internationally, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Arden tweeted that her ideas had been “with Australia and the folks of Melbourne” after the incident. “Pondering of all of the victims and their households,” she added.
It is a breaking information story. For updates comply with @BuzzFeedNews.
Gina Rushton is a breaking information reporter for BuzzFeed Information and relies in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at [email protected]
Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed Information and relies in London.
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