The driver of a car which plowed into crowds in downtown Melbourne Friday has been charged with five counts of murder.
According to a police statement, the 26-year-old “deliberately struck a number of pedestrians” as he repeatedly ran his car into shoppers near the busy Bourke Street Mall.
Five people were killed in the crash, including a 10-year-old girl and a three-month-old baby. At least 20 people were injured in the incident, which unfolded around 2 p.m. local time Friday and ended when police shot and wounded the driver before taking him into custody.
A vigil was held in Melbourne’s Federation Square Sunday to remember the dead, as hundreds of flowers and other gifts were laid at the site of the incident.
“Today is a day of great sadness for all of us,” said Daniel Andrews, premier of the state of Victoria.
“There is no one more innocent than a (three-month-old) boy in a pram. Our hearts have been broken by this.”
Andrews announced the creation of the Bourke Street Fund, with an initial contribution from the government of $75,000, that will be used to support the families of those that died.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull describe the incident as a “shocking, wanton, criminal attack.”
From stabbing to crash
The Bourke Street incident appears to have started with an argument between acquaintances several miles away. The driver of the car was allegedly involved in a stabbing in Windsor in south Melbourne early Friday morning, police said.
He then allegedly took a woman hostage and sped off in a maroon red car. Police said the driver knew both the stabbing victim and the woman, who managed to escape from the car on Bolte Bridge.
“Earlier in the incident we believe this male did some donuts at Flinders Street and Swanston Street,” police superintendent Stuart Bateson told reporters, according to CNN affiliate Seven News.
“He then turned left into the Bourke Street Mall and then he deliberately drove into the crowd, continued over Elizabeth Street over the footpath and collided with further pedestrians.”
Seven reported that the driver “sped down Swanston Street, up to Bourke Street, at times along the footpath, running down dozens of pedestrians.”