Multiple Injuries Reported After Car Plows Into Central Melbourne Shoppers In “Deliberate Act”; Driver Arrested

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A 32 year old Australian citizen of Afghan descent with a history of drug problems has been arrested in Melbourne, Australia after a white Suzuki SUV was driven into a crowd of downtown Christmas shoppers at around 4:40pm. Fourteen people were injured, some critically. “There was no attempt to brake, no attempt to swerve” said witness Jim Stoupas. The BBC reports one victim was a child of preschool-age with head injuries who was taken to Royal Children’s hospital in serious condition. 

Witness Chris Gath told The Age he saw 60 to 100 people crossing the intersection when a car travelling at up to 70km/h (43 MPH) headed for the crowd.

After the incident, several bystanders stepped in to restrain the driver, who was known to police – while another man was arrested and let go after he was determined not to be involved. Local police commander Russell Barrett said it was a “deliberate act,” though he stopped short of calling it terrorism, saying “The motivations are unknown,” and that they “don’t at this time have any evidence of intelligence to indicate a connection with terrorism.” 

Footage circulating online shows two police officers dragging a man in a white shirt and jeans away from the passenger side of the crashed SUV. He appears to be unconscious while officers slap him and search his pockets before handcuffing him.  

Driver described by police as an “Australian citizen of Afghan descent”

Australian police stand near crashed SUV (Louis Ascui / Reuters)

Commander Russell Barrett media conference: 

As The Age reports: 

Sue from Walker’s Doughnuts on Elizabeth Street told radio station 3AW that she heard screams before she saw “people flying everywhere“.”We could hear this noise. As we looked left, we saw this white car, it just mowed everybody down,” she said. “People are flying everywhere. We heard thump, thump. People are running everywhere.”

A young mother who was at the scene with her young daughters told radio station 3AW they fled as the car ploughed into pedestrians.”I didn’t want the kids to see anything,” she said. “We just ran. “I wanted to get the girls out of there so we ran into the closest building.

Chris Gath said he was standing at the 7-Eleven on the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth streets with a coffee in hand when he heard screaming. “I heard it first and then I turned around and saw lots of bodies on the floor. “I saw a car ploughing into many people and bodies flying everywhere.”

Members of the public stand behind police tape after the drivers were arrested: 

Approximate location of the incident: 

In the aftermath, witness Jim Stoupas said “I saw probably five to eight people on the ground with people swarming around them [to help]. Within a minute, I think, there were police on site, so it was very, very speedy.”

Another witness, Lachlan Read, told the Herald Sun the whole incident lasted about 15 seconds.

He has gone straight through the red light at pace and it was bang, bang, bang. It was just one after the other

Footage of the aftermath from above: 

Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull kindly tweeted “thoughts & prayers” to the victims and those treating them: 

This marks the second vehicle plowing attack in Melbourne this year. In January, six people were killed and over 30 injured when a car was driven up a foot path near Thursday’s incident. The driver was arrested and the incident was ruled not terrorism-related.