The first details around the blast of chaos and violence that struck Melbourne’s CBD on Friday evening have emerged, with the police arguing the shooting of a man armed with a broken bottle was justified given the threat he posed to officers.
Victorian Police Transit and Public Safety Command Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter, speaking on Saturday afternoon, said two separate incidents merged around Princes Bridge near Flinders St Station, with the chaos kicking off about 5.30pm.
At that time, a male on a tram allegedly attempted to rob a man and a woman before exiting at the landmark CBD bridge.
The South Melbourne man, 27, allegedly attacked four people with a bottle after leaving the tram, a 67-year-old Warneet man, a 56-year-old Collingwood woman, a 24-year-old Kennington woman and a 46-year-old Hoppers Crossing woman, putting all four in hospital with injuries including lacerations and bruising.
The police and protective service officers arrested the man and established a crime scene, Assistant Commissioner McWhirter said, before a second alleged offender, a 20-year-old Pakenham man, approached a PSO around 7pm.
The young man allegedly told the officer he was going to “harm him” and the officer alerted a fellow PSO to the threat.
Assistant Commissioner McWhirter said the man was wearing a hoodie and held his hands in his pockets and when he showed his hands, he revealed a broken bottle.
The officers used OC spray on the young man, but it did not work because the man’s hoodie protected his face, Assistant Commissioner McWhirter said.
The man then pursued one of the PSOs for 20 metres before a PSO drew his firearm and fired two shots at the man, hitting him in the stomach, in what the police have called a justified response to an urgent threat.
“A member was quite clearly going to be injured,” Assistant Commissioner McWhirter said.
He said the situation had “evolved very quickly” and “action had to be taken to avoid serious injury.”
Victorian paramedics, who were still on scene from the earlier incident, took the man to Alfred Hospital, where he will undergo surgery on Saturday night and remain in hospital for several days.
The man has non life-threatening injuries and he is expected to recover from his wound.
The police have confirmed two officers drew their firearms but only one fired shots.
“The members are dealing with the situation OK,” Assistant Commissioner McWhirter said.
“It’s a traumatic situation for anybody.”
The police said they had “no knowledge” of the man and he did not have a prior criminal history.
The response of the officers and their decision-making process will be investigated by Crime Command.
“By and large Melbourne is a very safe city,” Assistant Commissioner McWhirter said
“This is just an unfortunate incident.”
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