3 dead, 20 hurt as car rams Melbourne shoppers


MELBOURNE: A car ploughed into pedestrians on a popular shopping strip in the heart of Australia’s second-largest city on Friday, killing three people including a young child and injuring dozens more. Police said they were not considering the incident an act of terrorism.
Witnesses described “bodies flying through the air” and people running out of the path of the speeding vehicle in the central mall area of Melbourne.
Moments before, passers-by had watched astonished as the driver gesticulated out the window and spun the maroon-coloured saloon round a major intersection, blocking traffic.
The trail of violence took place barely a kilometre (half a mile) away from Melbourne Park where the world’s top tennis stars were playing the opening Grand Slam of the year in a city teeming with tourists.
Police shot the 26-year-old male driver — who has a history of family violence, mental health and drug issues — in the arm and arrested him.
“This individual is not related to any counter-terrorism or any terrorism-related activities,” said Graham Ashton, chief commissioner for the state of Victoria.
“He is not on our books as having any connection with terrorism and we’re not regarding this as a terrorism-related incident.
“What we do know of the person is there is an extensive family violence history involved.”
Three people were killed at different locations on Bourke Street, a man and a woman in their 30s and a child whose age was not given for privacy reasons, Ashton said.
Fifteen others were hurt. Five of them were in a critical condition, including an infant, he added.
The Royal Children’s Hospital said it was treating four children aged three months, two years, nine years and 12 years.
“The prayers and heartfelt sympathies of all Australians are with the victims and the families of the victims of this shocking crime in Melbourne today,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement.