Police say Dunedin Countdown stabbing was random, praise bravery of bystanders

Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 May 2021, 2:58PM

Police say Dunedin Countdown stabbing was random, praise bravery of bystanders

Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 May 2021, 2:58PM

Witnesses at the scene of a multiple stabbing at a Countdown supermarket in Dunedin say there was "chaos" as the attack unfolded.

Three people have been taken to Dunedin Hospital in a critical condition and one in a moderate condition after the 2.35pm incident.

A man, who had blood on him, has been arrested and was walked to the Dunedin Central Police Station, next door to the supermarket.

Southern district commander Paul Basham told reporters police responded within minutes.

Officers found four people with stab injuries and the alleged offender, who had been detained by members of the public.

He praised the bravery of shoppers who tried to intervene - they had acted selflessly and were heroic, Basham said.

It was the very early stages of the inquiry, including the motivation of the attack.

"We believed this was a random attack."

The alleged stabber was injured and was currently in hospital under police guard.

The matter was likely to be before the courts tomorrow, he said.

Basham believed the incident happened adjacent to the pharmacy.

"The credit goes to the members of the public who acted heroically [to try and stop the alleged offender]." (edited)

The man is in hospital, receiving treatment for his injuries, and would likely be formally charged this evening or tomorrow.

"This was a fast-moving and extremely traumatic event for every person in that supermarket – the victims who were injured, those present who tried to intervene and those who had to flee to a place of safety."

The offender sustained a minor injury during the incident, he said.

"The investigation is in the very early stages, but clearly we'll be doing a lot of background inquiries into this alleged offender and his local living conditions."

'Chaos': Shoppers tackled alleged stabber

A couple, who asked not to be named, were shopping in the aisle next to the pharmacy department, where the incident took place.

"We just heard a scream and thought someone must've fallen, but it got louder and louder and more people were screaming," the woman said.

"I saw one red hand among the people; a bloody hand, and everybody started running towards the exits."

The man said brave members of the public had pinned down the stabber but they believed he had been able to wrestle his way free before police arrived.

One woman who was shopping a couple of aisles over, said she was also alerted to the incident by the high-pitched yelling.

"I heard screaming and I thought it was just teenagers, but then I heard someone yell 'he's got a knife'."

Another woman who was entering the supermarket at the time said she was confronted by two hysterical girls.

Another bystander grabbed them, thinking they were shoplifters but they were followed by a stampede of shoppers.

"It was chaos," she said. "Unbelievable."

Staff included among injured: witness

An Otago Daily Times reporter at the scene said one person was put into an ambulance with an apparent neck wound.

A second person has been seen stretchered into an ambulance.

At least one of the patients is a member of staff and more are expected to come out.

Police said initial information suggested "several people have been injured".

A third person wearing a Countdown uniform has come out with a bandaged shoulder.

A fourth injured person who also appeared to be a staff member was taken out of the supermarket with what looked like head and shoulder injuries.

Police have blocked the entrances to the carpark but some people are being allowed to leave the carpark.

People can be seen crying and hugging each other.

A person at the scene said a staff member told him two other staff members had been stabbed and that the attacker allegedly walked up to someone and stabbed them in the back.

A man, who was seen covered in blood, has been apprehended by police at about 2.35pm.

There are at least two ambulances, police vehicles and armed police officers at the scene.

A witness said she was at the checkout when she heard someone else say someone "had a knife".

She said she heard people screaming.

People then began running out, she said.

Other witnesses said they saw people covered in blood.

People were seen running to help people in the supermarket.

The supermarket has been evacuated and people have been told to stay away from the windows.

A Twitter user who appeared to be in the Countdown said he saw someone who was handcuffed and bleeding as he was being removed from the supermarket.

He also saw stretchers being wheeled inside.

NZME's Rowena Duncum is at the scene, which is next door to a police station.

"The hospital is literally just two blocks away as well," she said.

"There are quite a few people who are around the outside of the Countdown car park. This is also where the buses congregate in central Dunedin. There are at least seven of eight bus stops situated adjacent to the car park.

"This is a really busy area, especially at this time of the day. As the afternoon progresses you'll start to see school children making their way here, it's a hub for them as they change buses from school."