MELBOURNE, Australia – Two men were arrested on Thursday after a car drove into a crowd of pedestrians in Melbourne, Australian police said.
The “absolutely horrific incident” left 19 people injured, four of whom were in critical condition, Victoria Police Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton told a press conference.
The driver of the vehicle is a “32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan descent,” Patton said, adding that he was apprehended by an off-duty police officer at the scene.
Police believe the incident to be “a deliberate act,” but have found no “evidence or intelligence to indicate a connection with terrorism,” Patton said.
He added that the individual has a “history of drug use and mental health issues” and had had prior interactions with police for driving offenses and a minor assault charge.
The second man who was detained at the scene was “observed filming the incident” on his mobile phone, and arresting officers found three knives in his possession.
While enquiries were ongoing, police did not believe the man was linked to the incident.
Patton and Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, who described the incident as “an evil, cowardly act,” highlighted the fact that investigators believed the incident to be “singular” in nature, and have not raised the terror threat level, encouraging people to continue enjoying the festive period.
“You should come in, go to the carols, go to the cricket, continue to enjoy yourselves,” Patton said.
Police have established a crime scene and have asked people to avoid the city center as investigations were under way, adding that the crime scene would be in place for “until at least 7:00 am” Friday.