Three people are fighting for life and a man wearing a ‘Sons of Anarchy’ shirt with blood on him has been arrested after a stabbing rampage inside a supermarket that left staff and shoppers ‘traumatised’.
The horrific incident unfolded in the Countdown supermarket on Cumberland Street, Dunedin, New Zealand’s South Island, on Monday afternoon, with customers desperately trying to intervene to stop the attack.
St John ambulance confirmed five people were rushed to hospital following the attack – three people have critical injuries and the others have moderate injuries.
Two of the injured are Countdown employees while the other three were customers who were inside the store at the time of the ferocious attack about 2:30pm (NZST).
Countdown staff could be seen embracing one another as the injured were stretchered from the supermarket by emergency services.
A man wearing a ‘Sons of Anarchy’ shirt was handcuffed at the Countdown supermarket on Cumberland Street, Dunedin, New Zealand, on Monday afternoon after three people were left in a critical condition following a stabbing attack
A man who was injured in the stabbing rampage is taken from the scene by paramedics
Witnesses said a man carrying two knives had entered the store, which is located next to a police station and just metres from the iconic Dunedin Railway Station and the city’s heart, the Octagon.
Police said one man was arrested. He is under police guard in hospital where he is receiving medical attention and is yet to be formally spoken to or charged.
Southern District Police Commander Superintendent Paul Basham said it 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’.
Supt Basham said while the investigation was still in its early stages, ‘on the face of what we currently know, we believe this was a random attack’.
He said he had viewed CCTV footage of the attack ‘which is quite traumatic’.
‘What I can say is those that intervened, some of who became injured themselves, I think have acted selfless and great courage to prevent this man from hurting anybody else – and indeed I think they did just that,’ he said.
Countdown employees embrace one another as a man with stab wounds is rushed to hospital
Police said in a statement that one person was arrested at the scene. He is being held under police guard in hospital
A witness told the Otago Daily Times: ‘We just heard a scream and thought someone must’ve fallen, but it got louder and louder and more people were screaming’.
‘I saw one red hand among the people; a bloody hand, and everybody started running towards the exits.’
Onlookers had reportedly tried to tackle the armed man to the ground before police arrived.
A witness told Stuff the attacker was ‘quite a messy little fellow’ with curly hair.
The supermarket has been closed for the remainder of Monday, with police saying the ‘scene is currently locked down and will be the subject of an extensive scene examination’. It will stay closed on Tuesday.
Countdown managing director Spencer Sonn said the ‘priority right now is our injured team members and caring for our wider team in the wake of this extremely traumatic event’.
The horrific stabbing attack unfolded about 2:30pm (NZST) on Monday. Emergency services are pictured at the scene
The supermarket has been closed for the remainder of Monday and will remain closed on Tuesday. Pictured, emergency services outside the supermarket
‘We have been concerned about the escalating violence towards our team, and this is something we have continued to talk and raise as an issue over the last year.
‘Our amazing team comes to work to serve Kiwis every day, and our customers visit our stores knowing that they will be safe. We are heartbroken that this wasn’t the case today.’
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said an early assessment by police indicated there was nothing to suggest a domestic terror event.
‘Needless to say such an attack is hugely concerning and I do want to acknowledge the really early reports of courageous acts by bystanders who have taken action in order to protect those around them,’ Ms Ardern said.
‘Our thoughts are with all those who’ve been affected by this attack.’