Melbourne stabbing spree leaves one dead

One man has been arrested and is in a critical condition after being shot in the chest by Australian police

Crowds are being told to avoid the Bourke Street area
Crowds are being told to avoid the Bourke Street area

A man went on a stabbing spree in the centre of Melbourne after apparently setting a car alight, killing one person and bringing the city to a standstill.

The attack occurred during rush hour on Bourke Street and, according to witnesses, sent people running and screaming “he’s got a knife”.

Three people were rushed to hospital, including the attacker who was shot in the chest. 

Victoria Police urged people to stay away from the area but said there were no known links to terrorism. No further suspects are being sought.

“There is no known link to terrorism at this stage,” a spokesman told reporters. “We will keep an open mind as to whether there is a link.”

Footage taken by witnesses showed police shooting the man after he threatened them with an object that appeared to be a knife. Some witnesses said the car exploded before the man began stabbing people.

"He seemed to be waving something, people around me screamed that he had a knife, but I couldn't see clearly from where I was," a witness told ABC News.

"And then I heard one loud bang. It sounded like a gunshot.”

Sarah Werkmeister, a witness, told The Herald Sun, “all I saw was the car on fire, and the police cuffing someone on the ground. People who’d seen it had told me they heard shots being fired, and everyone heard an explosion that was like the petrol exploding.”

The incident came as the trial began of James Gargasoulas, who is accused of killing six people on Bourke Street last year after allegedly deliberately ploughing through them with a car. 

Mr Gargasoulas, 28, who was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time, has pleaded not guilty.

The latest attack occurred on Friday at about 4.30pm, as streams of people were shopping and heading home.

A witness, who was taking a stroll during a break from work, told ABC News, “it is a very strange thing to witness on the streets you walk everyday…  People were quite scared. They wanted to know what was going on. It is so strange to see a car on fire in the centre of the city.”

The area around Bourke Street has been cordoned off and  a bomb squad is searching for explosives. The attack forced authorities to stop trams running down Bourke Street and Swanston Street. 

Police urged witnesses to provide them with mobile phone footage of the incident.

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