A man screaming “Allahu Akbar” went on a stabbing spree in downtown Sydney on Tuesday, killing one woman and wounding another before the public restrained him, an incident that local police insist was not terror-related.
The 21-year-old man, who has yet to be publicly identified, can be seen in footage posted online jumping on a car at a busy intersection waving a knife and shouting “Allahu Akbar.” The man then falls onto the street as the car moves away, and tried to run away before being tackled by civilians.
“Shoot me, fucking shoot me in the fucking head, shoot me, I want to fucking die,” he says at one point.
Just witnessed incredible bravery from members of the public and @FRNSW officers chasing down a man on a stabbing rampage in Sydney’s CBD. He is now under arrest. @7NewsSydney pic.twitter.com/wNKatejHVp
— Andrew Denney (@Andrew_Denney) August 13, 2019
At a press conference, New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller confirmed the death of a 21-year-old woman, while rejecting claims that the attack was terror-inspired, saying:
At around two this afternoon we received multiple phone calls about a 21-year-old man from Marayong, in the vicinity of King Street armed with a knife and wearing a balaclava. Over the next six minutes … there was terrifying carnage in that area. He stabbed a 41-year-old woman in the back – it appears to be a random attack.
Three members of the public who can only be described as highest-order heroes, have engaged this 21-year-old man and have placed him essentially under arrest, even though he was brandishing a large butcher’s knife and was clearly dangerous.A number of other emergency services were in the vicinity and responded shortly after, and police put this individual in custody.
In the next 30 minutes an expanded crime scene unfortunately identified a 21-year-old woman … deceased. All the available information we have at hand would link these two crimes.
Our counter-terrorist command immediately stood up and the joint CT team which includes police and state and fed agencies, have assessed all available info in relation to his crime and it is not currently classed as a terrorism based incident.
He later explained that the suspect was known to police and had a “history of mental health [issues].”
“I can say that he was known to police with but his history was unremarkable compared to the gravity of the crimes he committed. I can say he does have a history of mental health, but at this stage, I can’t expand on that,” said Fuller. “No doubt in the coming days, the investigation will be looked closely at, not just the last couple of days, but certainly the last probably six months to 12 months.”
Paul O’Shaughnessy, one of the men who restrained the assailant, told the Guardian that they had heard him shouting “extremist” slogans.
“We just finished lunch … We’re just based on King Street and we have a window slightly open so we can hear noise and traffic and we heard a lot of shouting which was now obviously the attacker, and my brother opened the window even more and he said, ‘Mate, there’s a guy wielding a knife.’”
Our immediate reaction was, right, let’s go and help, if he’s wielding a knife. So we went down the escalator, ran out, and you could see all the public on this side of the road and we were like, ‘Where is he?’ Could see a little bit of blood so we knew he’s done something with that knife, so we just ran after him basically and people were shouting, ‘He’s down that way.’
In our heads we were saying to each other, ‘Be careful, be careful,’ and we were asking witnesses, we were saying, ‘What has he got, is there anything else?’ ‘Nah, it’s just a knife’ – so that made us press forward even more because you can tackle someone if it’s like that, not if he’s got a gun or whatever.
So we went straight over, we got him near a cafe down near George Street. There was one guy already tussling and we just kind of like, everyone just jumped on the guy.
gotta give a big hand to Milk Crate Man and the Chair Chap, among those described as "heroes" by police for helping chase down a knife-wielding man in the Sydney stabbing https://t.co/uRnZWnO6mL pic.twitter.com/IuougpDar8
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) August 13, 2019
Posting on Twitter, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison praised the “brave actions” of those who managed to restrain the attacker.
“The violent attack that took place in Sydney this afternoon is deeply concerning,” he wrote. “The attacker is now in police custody following the brave actions of those who were present at the scene and were able to able to restrain him.”
“The motivation for this attack has not yet been determined as Police are continuing with their enquiries,” he continued. “Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by this violent attack.”
The violent attack that took place in Sydney this afternoon is deeply concerning. The attacker is now in police custody following the brave actions of those who were present at the scene and were able to able to restrain him.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) August 13, 2019