SYDNEY, Jan 23 (Reuters) – A man who authorities say drove into a crowd of pedestrians, killing five and injuring more than 20 in the centre of Melbourne, has been charged with five counts of murder, Australian police said on Monday.
Police alleged the 26-year-old acted deliberately and said he had been remanded to appear in court in August and faced additional charges.
On Sunday, a baby boy became the fifth person to die after the 26-year-old smashed into a crowd of pedestrians on a busy street in Australia’s second-biggest city, according to police.
The police rammed his car and the driver was shot in the arm before being dragged from the vehicle. Taken to hospital for treatment, he was released to appear before a judge on Monday.
Police have said the incident was not terrorism related.
In the wake of the incident, the government of the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, said it would set up a night court to hear after-hours bail requests after it emerged the alleged driver was out on bail when he drove into the crowd.
The accused killer was recently freed by a bail judge despite police opposition, over an alleged assault, according to the Police Association of Victoria.
“If changes are needed to be made, based on the facts, they will be made,” said the state’s premier and top politician, Daniel Andrews. “Resources will not be an issue, expense will not be an issue.”
Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall, near the site of the incident, has become a makeshift shrine for the victims and was adorned with flowers on Monday. Thousands also gathered at Melbourne’s Federation Square to pay tribute to the victims.