A gunman who took a woman hostage and is suspected of killing another man called up a TV newsroom during the siege to claim: ‘This is for IS, this is for al-Qaeda‘.
And it has now been revealed that the man who carried out Monday’s attack was out on parole, having been rated a low-risk of reoffending by counter terrorism police.
‘Severe gunfire’ rang out inside ‘The Buckingham’ serviced apartments on Bay Street, in the affluent east Melbourne suburb of Brighton, shortly after 6pm on Monday.
The hostage situation came to an end after the gunman stepped out of a hotel room and fired at officers – injuring three – before himself being killed in the exchange.
But moments before police shot the man dead, he called Channel 7’s newsroom to claim he was carrying out a terrorist attack on behalf of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
As he made the chilling phone call at around 5.41pm, a woman, believed to be the female hostage, was heard screaming desperately in the background.
The gunman responsible for the act was well known to terror police in Victoria, with investigations ongoing about the link of terror to the attack.
‘Terrorism is one line of inquiry,‘ Victoria police deputy commissioner Andrew Crisp said.
‘We’re extremely concerned about terrorism… we’re very attuned to the threat of terrorism here in Melbourne.’
Mr Crisp said when police arrived at the serviced apartments not long after 4:00pm they found a man dead on the floor of the foyer.
‘A short time later a phone call was made to triple-zero by a female stating there was a hostage situation and a deceased male,’ he said.
The female hostage and man found dead were both employees of ‘The Buckingham’, but police are not clear if there is any relationship between them and the gunman.
While the gunman’s identity is yet to be released, they have confirmed the phone call to Channel Seven came from a mobile belonging to him.
‘That’s all part of the investigation… we will certainly be working with Channel 7 in relation to that phone call,’ Mr Crisp said.
HOW AN ‘ISIS-INSPIRED’ GUNMAN BROUGH TERROR TO MELBOURNE:
Reports of an explosion in a service apartment block in Brighton, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs
Police enter ‘The Buckingham’ to find a man’s dead body on the foyer floor
The building is placed into lockdown and the area outside is cordoned off
Specialist police units can be seen outside ‘The Buckingham’
The Nepean Highway and Bay Streets are closed, disrupting peak hour traffic
It is revealed a gunman is holding a woman hostage inside the apartments
The gunman calls Channel Seven newsroom and claims ‘This is for IS, this is for al-Qaeda’
‘Severe gunfire’ is heard ringing out from inside the apartment block
Police exchange up to 40 shots with the gunman, killing him in the process
He had reportedly stepped out of an apartment and began firing at police, leading to them returning fire
Terrified residents in the area forced to run for their lives into a nearby Coles supermarket
Police confirm they are looking into terror links to the attack
The call was reportedly fielded by Nicole Bland, Channel Seven’s Chief of Staff, and left her ‘chilled to the bone’ by the conversation.
Paul Dowsley, a Channel Seven journalist at the scene, said Ms Bland described the man’s voice as ‘very firm and the woman in the background was clearly distressed’.
At 9pm a member of Victoria Police bomb squad entered the apartment blocks dressed in full protective wear and green head gear.
‘He has to make sure the building is safe before forensics can enter,’ a police source said at the scene.
More than an hour before the siege was brought to an end, residents reported that a ‘loud explosion’ had rattled the entire building at 4.30pm.
A police spokesperson said they believe the ‘bang’ first reported was gunfire and not an explosion.
As the exchange of gunfire rang out, residents in the area were forced to run for their lives to a nearby Coles supermarket as the volley of 30 to 40 shots rang out.
Jack Reid, who was standing down the road from the serviced apartments when the gunfire rang out, said he and his friends ran for their lives.
‘I was standing on the corner across the road,’ he told The Age.
‘I saw police pull out their guns, I heard about three dozen gun shots.
‘I got really scared and ran across the road. Police were telling everybody to get into the Coles supermarket so me and mates just ran.’
Witnesses say that shortly after the explosion at 4.30pm which ‘rattled the whole building’, they saw undercover police jumping out of a car and running up the road.
‘Undercover police got out, put vests on and went running up the street,’ a witness who gave her name as Caroline told radio station 3AW.
As the exchange of gunfire between police and the gunman broke out, Sky News journalist Ahron Young was doing a live cross to TV.
While describing the scene unfolding around him, a volley of gunfire rang out live on air around ‘The Buckingham’ serviced apartments.