Shoppers at a Dunedin supermarket were stabbed after they “tried to help” staff in a horrific incident that left five injured.
Five people were stabbed at a Countdown supermarket in Dunedin on Monday.
Shoppers at the supermarket were attacked after they “tried to help” staff in a horrific incident that left five injured.
A statement from Countdown confirmed the incident had occurred at its Dunedin Central Store.
Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s corporate affairs manager said five people had been stabbed in the store about 2.30pm. Ms Hannifin said two of the victims were employees.
A second statement released by the company said “customers who tried to help (Countdown) team members were also injured” during the incident.
New Zealand Prime Ministerpraised the bystanders on their “courageous acts”, as early reports suggested they had tried to de-escalate the violence.
All five victims were transferred to hospital, three in a critical condition, St John Ambulance said. Two were in a “moderate” condition.
New Zealand Police have arrested the alleged offender, and said they believe the incident was a “random attack”. The alleged offender is receiving treatment at Dunedin Hospital,reports. He hasn’t yet been charged, or formally interviewed by police.
Southern District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham said police were still investigating a possible motive, “however, on the face of what we currently know, we believe this was a random attack”.
The incident had been “fast-moving and extremely traumatic” for all the victims and witnesses involved, he said.
“The victims who were injured, those present who tried to intervene and those who fled to a place of safety.”
‘Everybody started running towards the exits’
A couple who were inside the supermarket when the incident occurred told thethey heard a “scream” when the incident began.
“We just heard a scream and thought someone must’ve fallen, but it got louder and louder and more people were screaming,” the woman, who didn’t want to be named, said.
“I saw one red hand among the people; a bloody hand, and everybody started running towards the exits,” she said.
The man said the shoppers had pinned the stabber, but he had wrestled his way free before police arrived.
Arthur Taylor, a jailhouse lawyer, said he saw a man walked out of the Countdown in handcuffs with blood on him. He said the man looked like a “raving lunatic”.
He said he spoke with a staff member after the incident who he described as being in a
“hell of a state”.
“He must’ve witnessed it all. He was sweating, couldn’t string many words together at all,” Mr Taylor said.
Ms Ardern said she understood the shoppers had tried to calm the situation, “and they were courageous acts”.
The Prime Minister said at this stage she didn’t believe it was an act of domestic terrorism.
“Needless to say, such an attack is hugely concerning and I do want to acknowledge the really early report of courageous acts by bystanders.”
“Our thoughts are with all those who’ve been affected by this attack.”
The supermarket chain said in a statement they were “shocked” by the incident and had been concerned about increased hostility directed at staff.
“We are shocked and devastated by the events in our Dunedin Central Store this afternoon,” a statement from Countdown said.
“Our priority right now is our injured team members and caring for our wider team in the wake of this extremely traumatic event.
“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.”
The retailer said the store would remain closed today and tomorrow.