Australian News

Flinders St erratic driver arrested, charged

Witnesses and police were on the same page — fearing the worst as an erratic driver performed doughnuts in a busy Melbourne intersection and screamed out for somebody to stop him.

They feared a repeat of James Gargasoulas’s Bourke St rampage which led to the deaths of six people, including two small children, in January 2017.

“Deadset I thought he was going to do exactly the same as that guy at St Paul’s Cathedral (Gargasoulas) who was doing doughnuts,” witness Heba Teryaki said.

The driver almost ran over Ms Teryaki, who said she approached the vehicle with her scooter “to see if he was all right”.

“I followed him to get his number plates and I couldn’t catch up to him,” she told reporters.

Police superintendent Dan Trimble reiterated that sentiment. He said he was “absolutely” concerned there would be a repeat of the 2017 attack which left Melbourne reeling.

The 26-year-old who terrified Melburnians on Wednesday climbed on top of his car, yelled for police to stop him and drove erratically around the intersection of Flinders Street and William Street.

He was arrested without incident as the critical incident response team swooped. Supt Trimble this morning praised officers.

Today it was revealed the man was arrested by police for an unrelated incident on Tuesday but released.

Nine News reports police attended a business in Blackburn North following reports of trespassing. They arrested the 26-year-old who was taken to hospital for assessment.

Victoria Police confirmed to 9News police attended a business in Blackburn North about 11.50am on Tuesday, following reports of a trespasser.

The man was arrested at the scene and later released, before the dramatic police operation unfolded 24 hours later.

“A 26-year-old was arrested and taken to hospital for assessment,” a Victoria Police statement read.

He said it took just three minutes for police to get on top of the situation and prevent what could have been much, much worse. But he said the shoot-to-kill powers granted to police were never considered.

“From the time we got (the first call) to when he was intercepted, I have it as three minutes,” Supt Trimble told 3AW.

“It’s still a long time and like all these incidents we’ll assess the way we responded and see where we can make improvements.”

The man had not been under observation by police until the incident in the CBD started.

“He came out of nowhere. Obviously we’ve got the cameras throughout the city and he was followed once we became aware of the incident at Flinders and Swanston streets and then we followed him on cameras there and he was intercepted down at Williams St,” Supt Trimble said.

About 50 police who are positioned throughout the city responded. Victoria Police arrested the 26-year-old at the intersection of Williams St about 1.50pm and have charged him with reckless conduct endangering life and other traffic offences.

He has been remanded in custody to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court this morning.

In January 2017, James Gargasoulas drove a car in circles at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston streets before taking the car through the Bourke St mall, killing six people and injuring another 27.

Since then, police have been given increased powers to intervene and security has been improved throughout the city.

– with AAP

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