A man who was pacing around a suburban shopping centre car park with a large knife is recovering in hospital after he was shot by police following a tense stand-off.
Police said several officers fired shots at the man about 9.10am on Tuesday after he refused to drop his weapon outside a shopping centre in Lilydale, in Melbourne’s outer north-east.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson said the man had been inside the medical centre brandishing a knife.
A search of the local area found the packaging for a knife, which had just been bought, in the shopping centre toilet.
Two officers – one of whom was a few weeks out of the police academy – fired shots at the man after he rushed at them following “quite a period of negotiation” in the car park, Mr Paterson said.
The 24-year-old had mental health issues and has had limited involvement with police in the past, the Deputy Commissioner said.
He had been staying in the Lilydale area on Monday night but may have come from elsewhere in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
« The police were verbally asking him to back off and stating, ‘No, we’re not going to kill you, we’re not going to shoot you’. Again, that’s very consistent with our training, » he said.
« No police member comes to work expecting or wanting to engage in the use of force and especially to shoot someone. This was another dynamic incident … police have had to use significant force to overcome a threat to both themselves and the public. »
Mobile phone footage taken by a witness and obtained by The Age shows about five police circling the man outside the Lilydale Medical Clinic while he holds a large knife in his right hand.
The man, wearing sunglasses and a black top, appears calm and is standing still as one officer slowly approaches with his firearm raised.
Seconds later she can be heard saying « stay where you are » as the man paces back and forth between the chemist and neighbouring medical clinic.
As other police begin to arrive, they attempt to negotiate with the man for a lengthy amount of time. He was shot minutes after the video was taken.
Police said they were initially called to the scene 40 minutes earlier to reports of a man armed with an edged weapon on Hutchinson Street in Lilydale about 8.30am.
« Officers attempted to speak with the man who refused to drop his weapon. Police discharged their firearms, shooting the man about 9.10am, » said a spokeswoman.
The man, who had injuries to his upper bodywas taken via air ambulance to hospital where he is recovering. Mr Paterson said that the man was in « a non-life-threatening condition ».
Dozens of police including officers from professional standards and detectives remain on the scene, with the nearby car park and petrol station closed to the public.
Police collected a green jacket, cigarette, mask and mobile phone-charging pack believed to belong to the man.
Radio listeners heard the events live on air after a witness called 3AW to describe the events.
Pauline called the Neil Mitchell program about 9.15am to describe the tense scene, before listeners heard gunshots in the background.
« There’s a fellow outside Chemist Warehouse at Lilydale Market brandishing quite a large knife, he was standing there for about five minutes, obviously surrounded by police but now he has decided to go walking through the car park, » she said.
She said the man was « just wandering » around holding the knife by his side while police were surrounding him with their guns and pepper spray drawn.
« Oh my god, here come more police … He is moving back to the car park again. And we now have two more police vehicles. »
« Oh shit, they are shooting. They have just shot … I can’t see if they have shot him but there have just been three or four rounds expelled. »
Glen Monteith had just dropped his son at childcare and had gone to the marketplace to get something for breakfast when he saw police surrounding the man, who he said appeared to be in his mid-30s, holding a knife that was about 15 centimetres long.
« There was a man sort of walking back and forth in sort of a 10-metre area with a knife just sort of talking to himself, ranting and raving a bit. »
Mr Monteith said that one of the officers who seemed to be the most senior of the group was shouting at the man to put the knife down.
« He stopped for a second and looked around, he looked like he didn’t know where he was … he took a few steps and started to speed up and the senior policeman fired first and two other [officers] shot as well. I heard three shots, » he said.
Mr Monteith said the armed man dropped to the ground and police ran to get paramedics.
« From my perspective the police did a fantastic job, they gave him every opportunity to put the knife down, they tried to talk him down for 10 to 15 mintues.
« Afterwards I was quite rattled, it’s pretty shocking to see something like that so close to home. It’s pretty confronting. »
Police union secretary Wayne Gatt said the incident highlighted the need for all frontline police to have Tasers.
« This incident yet again highlights the prevalence of mental health issues in our community and the crisis that our members confront almost daily, having to work in a broken system that fails to provide adequate support for vulnerable people when they need it, » he said.
« Police officers and PSOs, when responding to incidents like this, require access to less than lethal options. All frontline patrols need urgent access to conducted energy devices, or Tasers. This is something we highlighted prior to the last state election.
« When police don’t have these tools, they possess fewer options, and fewer options can mean the risk of serious injury or death increases dramatically. This is a view we have expressed to the current Royal Commission into Mental Health.
Detectives from the armed crime squad will investigate the incident which will be overseen by Professional Standards Command, which is standard protocol when a police firearm is discharged.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or with dash cam footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppervic.com.au.
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Simone is a crime reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Age, and before that for The Australian in Melbourne.
Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.
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