A shopper who witnessed a man allegedly carry out a wild stabbing rampage inside a supermarket has told of the horrific moment she and the accused came face to face.
The 42-year-old man allegedly stabbed four people in the attack at a Countdown supermarket in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island about 2.30pm on Monday afternoon.
After being restrained by customers and then police, the man was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of two men and two women – two of whom were Countdown employees.
Three of the injured are in a serious but stable condition, while the fourth is in a moderate condition.
The 42-year-old is due to make his first court appearance later. The suspect was also injured in the alleged attack and was initially treated for his wounds under police guard before being transferred to jail.
Shopper Jenny McDowell told Daily Mail Australia her first thought was other customers were having an argument when she heard screams echo down the aisles at the Cumberland Street supermarket.
Countdown employees embrace one another as a man with stab wounds is rushed to hospital. Another man, 42, has been arrested and charged with the attempted murder of two men and two women
Police said in a statement that one person was arrested at the scene. He was held under police guard in hospital before being moved to a police station as he waits to face court on Tuesday
The Maori cultural studies student quickly realised how serious the situation was when she saw the man allegedly stab a female employee and then look directly at her.
‘For a second it didn’t really click what was happening but then I saw the man standing over the Countdown worker and she was shielding her hands trying to protect her head,’ she said.
‘He looked in my direction and I was thinking “is this really happening?” I guess it was just a form of disbelief.
‘I backed up a bit and then a man yelled at me to help someone who was stabbed in the neck.’
She said she kept going back over in her head what more she could have done to help the injured man.
A Countdown employee used his shirt to put pressure down on the wound after Ms McDowell briefly froze during the chaos.
Shopper Jenny McDowell came face to face with the man accused of carrying out the shocking rampage
She eventually emptied her reusable bag so she could apply pressure with it, but by that time the employee had already pushed his jersey down against the injured man’s neck.
‘I just keep thinking I should have tried to stop the bleeding sooner. I’ve done first aid before and it went out of my head,’ she said.
‘The man kept saying “my wife, my wife – how is my wife?”
‘I was reassuring him help was coming. The police came really quickly but it felt like forever – time just slowed down. There was so much blood – I had blood on my clothes as well.
‘I thought about going in to restrain the man but fear held me back. I kept thinking is he going to come for me next.’
The blood-spattered 42-year-old was led out of the supermarket by police wearing a ‘Sons of Anarchy’ T-shirt.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the alleged attack is not believed to be terror-related.
Ms McDowell also told of the dramatic moment both staff and shoppers – including one armed with a chair – tried in any way they could to hold the man down.
‘Three or four people just jumped in completely selflessly to try and restrain the man,’ she said.
A man wearing a ‘Sons of Anarchy’ shirt was handcuffed at the Countdown supermarket on Cumberland Street, Dunedin, New Zealand, on Monday afternoon after three people were left in a serious but stable condition following the alleged stabbing attack
‘Someone got a chair – I don’t know where from – and they were holding him down in the aisle near the pharmacy. I’m so proud of what they did. They were truly amazing – absolute heroes.
‘The man nearly got free at one point but the shoppers were able to restrain him until police came.’
Another witness wrote on Facebook how she was told to flee when the alleged stabbing spree began.
‘A lady was freaking out telling everyone to run,’ the Wellington woman wrote.
A man who was injured in the alleged stabbing rampage is taken from the scene by paramedics
Southern District Police Commander Superintendent Paul Basham said it was a ‘fast-moving and extremely traumatic event for every person in that supermarket – the victims who were injured, those present who tried to intervene and those who had to flee to a place of safety’.
Supt Basham said while the investigation was still in its early stages, ‘on the face of what we currently know, we believe this was a random attack’.
He said he had viewed CCTV footage of the attack ‘which is quite traumatic’.
‘What I can say is those that intervened, some of who became injured themselves, have acted selfless and great courage to prevent this man from hurting anybody else – and indeed they did just that,’ he said.
The supermarket will stay closed until at least Wednesday.
The alleged stabbing attack unfolded about 2.30pm (NZST) on Monday. Emergency crews are pictured at the scene
The supermarket has been closed for the remainder of Monday and will remain closed on Tuesday. Pictured, emergency services outside the supermarket
Countdown staff could be seen embracing one another as the injured were stretchered from the supermarket by emergency services.
Countdown managing director Spencer Sonn said the ‘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.
‘Our amazing team comes to work to serve Kiwis every day, and our customers visit our stores knowing that they will be safe. We are heartbroken that this wasn’t the case today.’