A woman is taken by ambulance from Hotel CBD at the corner of King and York Street in Sydney, Australia, Aug 13, 2019. (DEAN LEWINS / AAP IMAGE VIA AP)
SYDNEY — A knife-wielding man with a history of mental illness is suspected of slaying a woman in a downtown Sydney apartment before wounding another woman nearby and attempting to stab other people Tuesday while yelling "Allahu akbar," or "God is great," police and witnesses said.
In a statement, the Consulate-General of China in Sydney confirmed that a Chinese national had been injured during the attack
Police had not listed the rampage as an act of terrorism, although the 21-year-old assailant — who was restrained by members of the public before being arrested — had collected information on his computer about mass killings in North America and New Zealand, New South Wales state Police Commissioners Michael Fuller said.
A gunman who recently left 22 people dead at a Texas Walmart appears to have praised the March 15 shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, where an Australian white supremacist is charged with killing 51 worshippers at two mosques.
"It is not currently classed as a terrorist incident. Obviously as the investigation continues we will reassess that," Fuller told reporters.
"He is by definition, at the moment, a lone actor. Information was found on him that would suggest he has some ideologies in relation to terrorism, but he has no links to terrorism," Fuller said. "There was certainly information found on him about other crimes of mass casualties and mass deaths around the world."
Police were investigating a home about 32 km west of the city where the young man lived with his parents.
Witnesses said the assailant was carrying a 12-inch knife and a computer thumb drive containing information about deadly attacks in North America and New Zealand as he attempted to stab multiple people near a busy intersection in Australia's largest city at around 2 pm. Fuller described the weapon as a butcher's knife.
Police said that a man was arrested, and that a 41-year-old woman with a stab wound to her back was taken to a hospital in a stable condition.
Police said the body of a 21-year-old woman was later discovered in a nearby fourth-floor apartment at around 3:15 pm.
In a statement, the Consulate-General of China in Sydney confirmed that a Chinese national had been injured during the attack.
"A number of members of the public physically restrained the offender," Police Superintendent Gavin Wood said. "I want to acknowledge those members of the public who got involved. They were significantly brave people."
This AFP graphic shows a map of Australia locating Sydney where man stabs woman, attempts to stab others in city centre, Aug 13, 2019.
Video showed that people had pinned the man to the pavement on his back with a plastic milk crate over his head and two chairs over his body.
Wood said it appeared that the attack was unprovoked. The man "attempted to stab multiple people. Those attempts, thankfully, were unsuccessful," Wood said.
An Uber driver said the assailant jumped on the hood of his Mercedes as he was driving an elderly couple down the street where the violence unfolded. The driver, who did not give his name, told Nine Network News that the man fell off the car when he accelerated and turned down a side street.
A witness told reporters that the man was screaming comments about religion, before yelling to police that he wanted to be shot. Police said he used the Arabic phrase "Allahu akbar."
A 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 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 passers-by, 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."
Fuller said the assailant had a "history of mental health." Fuller said the assailant would be charged.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Twitter that the violence was "deeply concerning" and praised the members of the public who restrained the assailant.
HONG KONG NEWS