Stabbing incident in Dunedin leaves five injured

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Police say it was a random incident; one man detained

Venkat Raman with RNZ, May 10, 2021

RNZ Photo by Tim Brown

Dunedin resident and visitors were shocked and speechless as four people were stabbed at the Countdown Supermarket in Dunedin, New Zealand today.

It was around 2.30 pm that the incident occurred; District Commander of the Southern District Police Paul Basham said that  it was a random incident, followed a while later by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who confirmed that ‘it was not a domestic terror incident.’

The alleged offender has been taken to hospital with injuries and has not yet been charged. Superintendent Basham said that Police received the first of many calls about the attack at the Countdown on Cumberland Street in Dunedin just before 2.30pm.

Arrest and charges

He said that there were Four victims and that a man had been detained by members of the public before Police arrived.

“The man had a minor injury and would appear before the courts tomorrow. We were satisfied that we had the person responsible in custody. The minimum charge is likely to be wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. I expect, depending on when he is seen at the hospital, he will come back to the police station here tonight and he will be formally charged and appear in the Dunedin court tomorrow morning,” he said.

Countdown Corporate Affairs Manager Kiri Hannifin had earlier confirmed that there had been people stabbed – two of them employees – believed to have been at the health and beauty area near the pharmacy.

In a statement, Southern DHB said that five people had presented to the emergency department and were being assessed and treated.

“Four patients are being admitted to hospital in a serious condition, three to the ICU and one to general ward. One patient is being treated in the emergency department,” it said.

Victims on Status One

Superintendent Basham said that three of the victims were in “status one” and were going into surgery this afternoon. Police closed the store down.

One witness said she believed the attacker was on drugs. Another said a man was having a psychotic episode and used two knives to stab people before being disarmed by others in the store including staff.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said that the incident was not something he would expect to unfold in his city.

“Everyone should feel safe in their place of work or going about everyday tasks like grocery shopping. These sorts of events are particularly chilling because it could have been any of us or our friends or family. It is a busy location in the centre of the city,” he said.

People with information, including video footage, were encouraged to contact police on 105 and quote event number P046456846.

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