19 injured after 4WD mows down Christmas shoppers in “deliberate act”

UPDATE at 9:30 PM AEST | THE number of people injured when a four-wheel-drive deliberately ploughed through a line of pedestrians in Melbourne’s CBD has risen to 19.

In a media conference held shortly after 8.30pm AEST, police said the male driver of the white Suzuki four-wheel-drive used in the atrocity was a 32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan descent.

In total, 19 people were injured when the four-wheel-drive accelerated into pedestrians outside Flinders Street Railway Station around 4:41pm local time, four of whom remain in a critical condition. Scroll down for videos.


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Police said they are treating the incident as a “deliberate act”, although stressed there was no evidence suggesting the incident was terror-related.

“We don’t, at this time, have any evidence or any intelligence to indicate there is a connection with terrorism…we are treating it as a singular incident,” police said.

“Having said that, however, we continue to support this investigation with our counter-terrorism command to ensure that there isn’t that connection and that there is no ongoing threat.”

Of the almost 20 people who were injured, seven are being treated at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, two of whom are in a critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

A pre-school aged child was taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

A further nine patients are being treated at The Alfred Hospital, two of whom are listed as critical, while two patients are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Police confirmed the driver of the vehicle is known to police and has a history of drug use and mental health issues.

“What we do know about the driver of the car is he a person who is known to Victoria Police and has historical assault matters,” police said.

“He is not currently on any bail or any corrections order or anything of the like and has a history of drug use as well as mental health issues.

“We understand he is on a mental health plan and receiving treatment for a mental illness. We are working through those to clarify that.

“Obviously this is a horrific incident, and our hearts clearly go out to the whole families involved, to the friends involved, and anyone impacted who was at the scene.”

The driver was arrested by an off-duty police officer and was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital where he remains this evening, under police guard.

The off-duty officer involved in the arrest was also taken to hospital for treatment to shoulder and hand injuries.

A second 24-year-old man arrested at the scene is no longer believed to be connected to the incident.

“Another 24-year-old male, in close proximity at that time, was seen filming the incident with his mobile phone and also had a bag that had possession of some knives in it. [He] was also taken into custody,” police said.

“It’s now believed he had no links to the incident, however, he is still assisting police with enquiries.”

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews described the incident as an “act of evil”.

“What occurred on Flinders Street this afternoon was an act of evil and an act of cowardice,” Mr Andrews said.

“This was an attack on innocent bystanders – people finishing their Christmas shopping, heading home from work, unwinding for the year.

“They did not deserve this. Our city did not deserve this.

“Christmas should be a time of celebration, spent with loved ones. Instead, for many Victorian families, it will be a permanent reminder of the day their lives changed forever.

“We are all caught up in this, we are all deeply sad and deeply wounded by this terrible, terrible act.

“However, it is a source of, pride for all of us to think that strangers came to the aid of people they had never met before.

“That our police our firefighters our ambulance paramedics were there in good time and did their job.

“That should be a source of pride for them, and I think it’s important that we acknowledge that all Victorians are proud of them for the diligent and professional way that they were able to take control of the scene.”

The intersection of Flinders and Elizabeth streets remains cordoned off as a crime scene and isn’t expected to be reopened until at least 7am on Friday.

UPDATE at 6:30 PM AEST | POLICE have confirmed they are treating the horrific incident in Melbourne – where a 4WD ploughed into a group of Christmas shoppers – as a “deliberate act”.

More than a dozen men, women and children were mowed down by a white SUV as it accelerated through an intersection outside Flinders Street Railway Station in the heart of the city at 4:45pm local time (5.45pm AEST).

In a press conference at 6pm AEST, police confirmed they were treating the incident as a “deliberate act”, the motive of which however is yet to be determined.

“At this stage, we believe it is a deliberate act however we do not know the motivation,” police said.

“Police arrived on the scene within minutes and arrested two men.”

Police said a total of 14 people had been transported to hospital, some of them with life-threatening injuries.

It’s understood as many as 20 people were treated or assessed by paramedics at the scene.

Of the injured is a pre-school aged child. Ambulance Victoria said the child was rushed to hospital in a serious condition with head injuries.

She was one of the first two patients taken away from the scene in an ambulance.

Police said emergency services would remain on the scene for the “foreseeable future”.

“The crime scene will be in place for a considerable amount of time and we are urging people to avoid the area.”

“Police will continue to have a strong presence in the Melbourne CBD tonight.

“We understand that this has been a very traumatic event and there will be witnesses, victims and family members affected.

“People may have items or vehicles within the crime scene area, however they will not be able to access these until the area is reopened.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident is urged to attend the Melbourne West Police Station at 313 Spencer Street, or contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via their website www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

Members of the public who have original video or images of the incident that might assist police with their investigation should upload them here australiauploadserviceweb.cloudapp.net

No further information was available at the time of writing.

UPDATE at 5:20 PM AEST | THIRTEEN people have now been transported to hospital, including a pre-school aged child, after a vehicle ploughed into a group of Christmas shoppers in the heart of Melbourne.

It’s understood the white SUV mowed down men, women and children outside Flinders Street Railway Station, between Elizabeth and Swanston streets, just after 4.30pm local time (5.30pm AEST).

Ambulance Victoria says a total of 13 people have now been transported to hospitals across the city.

Paramedics are still on the scene treating two people, taking the total number of injured to at least 15.

It’s understood the pedestrians were crossing a major intersection when they were mowed down.

Witnesses have told media the vehicle appeared to deliberately accelerate through the intersection.

Police have saturated the city CBD to “ensure community safety”, adding speculation to reports that the incident may have been terror-related, although Victoria Police is yet to make any official comment on the nature of the incident.

In a statement released just minutes ago, police did confirm that the driver of the vehicle and a second man were arrested at the scene and remain in police custody.

(Source: Twitter via Tom Minear (@tminear)/The Herald Sun)

 

FIRST at 4:30 PM AEST | AT least a dozen people have been injured after a white SUV ploughed into a group of pedestrians in Melbourne.

The incident unfolded on Flinders Street, between Elizabeth and Swanston streets, shortly before 5pm AEDT.

It is not yet clear if the incident was an accident or a deliberate act, but the driver of the four-wheel-drive has been arrested.

“Police are currently attending an incident on Flinders Street between Elizabeth and Swanston streets where a vehicle has collided with a number of pedestrians,” Victoria Police said in a statement on Twitter.

“Police have arrested the driver of the car. [the] extent of injuries are not known at this stage.

“Police have saturated the CBD area…to ensure community safety.”

Ambulance Victoria has confirmed paramedics are treated 12 people with injuries of varying degree at the scene.

Of those, at least two people have already been rushed to hospital, including a pre-school aged child.

Ambulance Victoria says all twelve patients will be hospitalised and a number of them have been seriously injured.

Victoria Police are appealing for any witnesses to attend the Melbourne West Police Station at 313 Spencer Street.

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