A driver who crashed into a Muslim fashion store injuring more than a dozen people has been arrested again – as a first responder reveals how a vigilante reached into the car and bashed him up.
Fourteen people were injured when a man, 51, ploughed his car into Hijab House in Greenacre, in Sydney’s south-west, about 3pm on Thursday afternoon.
The driver was interviewed by police but was released without charge on Thursday evening.
However, police announced on Friday afternoon that he had been re-arrested at home in Greenacre and was expected to be charged.
It comes as mobile phone video emerged appearing to show a bearded man in a black T-shirt scuffling with the man immediately following the crash.
First responder Dr Nafi Musa said he saw that man punching the driver – who did not fight back but raised his fists in a protective stance.
‘(The man) was like, angry, and punched him,’ the GP told Daily Mail Australia on Friday morning.
Several women suffered cuts from the glass at the front of the store exploding open when the car ploughed through
Harrowing scenes: Mobile phone footage captured a man, centre, emerging from the Mitsubishi SUV after it shook violently. Local GP Nafi Musa, right, rushed to help the injured
Police, paramedics and witnesses immediately after the car rammed the store
‘It looked like he was trying to retaliate or maybe a shop belongs to someone’s relative.
‘When I saw him, he was protecting himself, the driver, he was not fighting back.’
Dr Musa said a woman screamed something along the lines of ‘it was an accident, it was an accident … it was not intentional so leave him alone’.
Video shows the man then leaving the store as a woman yells – including ‘get him out’ – while other witnesses ask how many people were in the car at the time of the crash.
A New South Wales Police Force spokeswoman said it hasn’t received reports about punches being thrown.
Dr Musa works two doors down from the store. He rushed out of his GP clinic after hearing a huge explosion while treating his final patient of the day.
‘There were a lot of people lying, in pain, shock, screaming,’ he said.
Dr Musa said he first went to check whether anyone was trapped underneath the car, but thankfully no one was.
He treated a man in his 20s who was struck in the thigh by the car as well as three women bleeding from cuts he attributed to broken glass.
The doctor said the driver just sat in the car and didn’t do or say anything, and was convinced he ‘looked normal’.
Shocked locals console one another after the brutal crash this week. Police have said they are grateful no one was killed
The van (pictured) has now been removed from the Hijab House store following hurs of police investigations
The driver is known to police for previous traffic offences. He was interviewed by investigators last night but was released without charge as investigations continue.
The investigation will examine whether he suffered any medical episode or the car – which has been removed from the scene had mechanical problems.
The crash left 14 people injured, with Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell telling reporters he was ‘very grateful’ nobody had been killed.
None of the injuries are life-threatening, but several victims were left with serious injuries and broken legs.
Among the injured was a 13-year-old girl, who was rushed to hospital.
Police said the car crashed into another vehicle stopped at the traffic lights moments before driving into the busy store.
Most of the victims are believed to be women aged between 18 and 30 and were in the store shopping at the time of the crash.
So far, one victim was in a serious condition.
Emergency services rushed to the scene (pictured) on Thursday, but no-one suffered life-threatening injuries
The store was particularly busy ahead of Eid al-Fitr this weekend, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan.
The driver was arrested and taken to Liverpool Hospital for assessment and mandatory testing.
After being discharged, he was taken to Bankstown Police Station where he was interviewed by police and released.
A spokesman for Hijab House confirmed both customers and staff were injured in the crash.
‘A number of our customers and staff members were injured.
‘The community is shaken and management is working to make sense of this tragedy.
Police are still investigating how exactly the crash unfolded
‘At this stage motives are unknown. The important thing is everyone is still alive.’
John Makhlouf, who owns a nearby petrol station, said he saw the car careen through the intersection and into the shop, after ‘pushing’ another vehicle out of the way.
‘I saw a lot of smoke and heard a beeping horn.
One car got pushed out of the way and the other car went straight into the shop and crashed and you could hear the horn constantly beeping,’ he told the ABC.
‘It’s very lucky there was no one standing on the corner or crossing at the lights because they would have been hit.’
A worker at the Al Aseel restaurant next door said ‘police and ambulances were everywhere’.