SYDNEY, Australia — A man stabbed a woman and attempted to knife several other people in central Sydney Tuesday before being pinned down by members of the public and detained by police, eyewitnesses and officials said, with the body of a woman found later in a nearby building.
Police said it was “not currently classed as a terror incident” and the perpetrator, identified as Mert Ney, acted alone and had no known links to terror organization, although “information was found on him that would suggest he had some ideologies related to terrorism.”
Images broadcast by Australian media showed the man jumping on the roof of a car brandishing a knife, appearing to shout “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest in Arabic) and “shoot me.”
The injured woman was taken to a hospital in stable condition.
Later, police told local media that the body of a woman who was stabbed to death was found at a nearby hotel.
Australian media said authorities believe the woman’s death was connected to the rampage.
Just witnessed incredible bravery from members of the public and @FRNSW officers chasing down a man on a stabbing rampage in Sydney’s CBD. He is now under arrest. @7NewsSydney pic.twitter.com/wNKatejHVp
— Andrew Denney (@Andrew_Denney) August 13, 2019
Ney, 21, of the Sydney suburb of Marayong, reportedly has a history of mental health problems police had been aware of.
He was taken by police to a local hospital.
Police commissioner of the Australian state of New South Wales, Mick Fuller, indicated that a USB drive was found containing content related to mass shootings in New Zealand and North America.
Eyewitness Megan Hayley told AFP she saw a man in his 20s or 30s brandishing a large kitchen knife and chasing several people though the busy central business district shortly after lunchtime.
“Five or six others were chasing him behind, trying to stop him, they caught him and restrained him” in front of two popular cafes in the heart of the city, she said.
We believe there is a crime scene currently at his home.
— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) August 13, 2019
Edward Wong, 24, who also witnessed the attack, said the man “looked like he had blood on his chin and chest.”
Another witness, Paul O’Shaughnessy, said he and his brother Luke were working in the office of their recruitment company when they heard shouting through an open window. They looked out and saw a Caucasian man, aged around 25, screaming “extremist” words, O’Shaughnessy said.
The brothers, fearing the man was conducting a terrorist attack, ran down to the street and began chasing the man, who was covered in blood.
Luke O’Shaughnessy and another man caught up with the offender and tackled him to the ground, Paul O’Shaughnessy said. Along with other passersby, they used a milk crate and a chair to keep him pinned to the ground, he said.
Paul O’Shaughnessy told The Associated Press that the man “didn’t show any remorse at all.”
Police hailed the bravery of onlookers who stepped in and pinned the man down with chairs and a plastic crate.
“To approach a person… with clear evidence of a stabbing previously, these people are heroes,” police spokesman superintendent Gavin Wood said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote on Twitter that “the violent attack that took place in Sydney this afternoon is deeply concerning. The attacker is now in police custody following the brave actions of those who were present at the scene and were able to … restrain him.
“The motivation for this attack has not yet been determined as Police are continuing with their inquiries. Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by this violent attack.”