Melbourne pedestrians hit, driver has ‘mental issues’

Man who drove a car into pedestrians in Melbourne has mental health issues but no known ‘terrorism’ links, police say.

Police arrested the driver who ploughed his car into pedestrians at a intersection near Flinders Street [Luis Ascui/Reuters]

A man who intentionally drove a car into a crowded intersection in the heart of Melbourne on Thursday has a history of mental health issues but no known “terrorism” links, police said.

The 32-year-old Australian man of Afghan descent was known to police and also has a history of drug use, Victoria state Police Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said.

“At this time we do not have any evidence or intelligence to indicate a connection with terrorism,” Patton told reporters in Melbourne.

The suspect was apprehended by an off-duty officer of the Victoria police force. Both men were injured during the arrest.

The white four-wheel-drive vehicle crashed into a cable car stop on Flinders Street during late afternoon rush hour on Thursday.

The driver was arrested along with another person, who was seen filming the incident and was later found to be carrying several knifes.

“We believe based on what we have seen that it is a deliberate act. The motivations are unknown,” Victoria Police’s Commander Russell Barrett told reporters.

Witnesses saw one man wearing a long-sleeved top being dragged from the white Suzuki Grand Vitara, while a second man wearing a red checked shirt was seen handcuffed and sitting on the ground.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Sydney, said several of the wounded were in critical condition.

“They haven’t established any links with terrorism. That isn’t necessarily saying that this wasn’t a terrorist event. But they certainly not saying that as yet,” Thomas said.

“Interestingly, the second person arrested on the scene was not inside the vehicle. There had been some speculation earlier that he may have been in the car. He wasn’t. He was seen to be filming the incident on his mobile phone.

“When police arrested him and looked inside his bag, they found some knifes. That’s why he was taken into custody as well. It is not clear whether he knew the man inside the car or not.

Daniel Andrews, Victoria’s State Premier, called it the incident an act of evil.

“Our police, paramedics and fire fighters were there in good time and did their job, Andrews said.

“There are 19 people admitted to hospital. Fifteen are in stable condition. Four are in critical condition. The patient being treated at the Royal Children’s hospital is not critical,” he added.

“The offender is one of the patients and is not in critical condition and the off-duty arresting officer who detained the offender did suffer some injuries and is receiving hospital treatment.”

Source: Al Jazeera