NEW UPDATE 4.15pm 02/05/11 Another Police Shooting updates on the way
POLICE have shot a man in Prahran less than 24 hours after a fatal shooting in St Kilda.
Emergency services were called to the corner of Bangs and High St, Prahran, about 3.30pm.
The victim, believed to be in his 20s, has been taken to the Alfred Hospital with wounds to his abdomen.
A nearby man said he heard the man groaning as he was loaded into an ambulance.
“I knew it was more than a kick to the leg or capsicum spray,’’ the man said.
“The police were really edgy. They were pretty vocal. They were just trying to cordon off the area.
“You could tell something serious had gone down there.’’
The man said a nearby woman broke down when the injured man came out on the stretcher.
UPDATE 11.12am: CHIEF Commissioner Simon Overland has backed the officers who shot dead a knife-wielding man in St Kilda last night.
A botched drug deal is believed to have led to the fatal police shooting late last night.
Police believe the 30-year-old man from Geelong was involved in a stabbing at a nearby hotel earlier in the evening.
Officers were called to the Gatwick Hotel in St Kilda about 7.30pm after a woman was stabbed in the back, allegedly by two men.
Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said the constables spotted two men matching the description of the attackers as they drove from the hotel about 10pm.
He said the police officers got out of their car and told the men to stop, but one of the men advanced towards them with a knife.
The officers said the man ignored repeated calls to drop the knife and was shot when he lunged at them.
The man was shot on Grey St, just 100 metres from a busy strip of restaurants and pubs on Fitzroy St in St Kilda.
Mr Overland backed the actions of the officers involved.
“I understand my police officers were quite properly going about their job,” he said.
“They’ve seen a couple of people they thought might be suspects in an earlier, quite serious offence in the area, they’ve approached them as they quite properly should, they were confronted and in fact approached by a man with a knife who resisted all calls for him to drop the knife and to desist.
“He didn’t do that, and under the circumstances they took what I believe was entirely appropriate action.’’
Mr Overland said the officers were not equipped with tasers and that they were unlikely to have assisted.
“As the facts have been related to me, I don’t see tasers were a good option, or would have been a good option under the circumstances as they presented,’’ he said.
“We do obviously try and do everything we can from a training and management point of view to avoid police shootings.
“They are always regrettable when they happen but in the circumstances, as made known to me, I believe my officers behaved entirely appropriately as I would expect them to behave and unfortunately they had little alternative to do other than that which they did.’’
Mr Overland dismissed speculation the dead man had been shot by police in the head.
Witnesses told the Herald Sun they heard police yelling at the man “several times” before they fired a shot. There was a pause of several seconds and two more shots followed.
Police cars were on the scene minutes later.
Paramedics said the man was dead when they arrived.
Grey St resident Michael said he heard yelling and shouting before three shots were fired.
“The guy that was on the path, we couldn’t see him because of a tree, he sounded like he was being restrained by the police,” he said.
“He was very irate. I made out him saying, ‘You just shot my best friend in the face’. About 10 or 15 minutes later he said, ‘Every dog has his day’.”
Port Phillip Mayor Rachel Powning refused to say if the council had any concerns about the Gatwick Hotel.
“This is a tragic event, but is a matter for the police,” she said in a statement.
“An investigation is underway and it would be inappropriate to comment.”
One St Kilda local was asleep when she heard a commotion.
She said she heard a person threatening to shoot.
“They basically said, ‘Stand still, if you move I will shoot, if you move I will shoot,’ and there were two shots,” said the woman, who didn’t want to be named.
The woman said she didn’t know how long it was between the comments being made and the shots being fired.
“It was all very close, the situation was all very close.”
The woman said police need to increase their presence in the area so they could respond to incidents.
Another woman said she came out of her house on Grey St after she heard three shots fired.
“There was a guy lying on the (ground) with blood coming out of his head,” the woman said.
Grey St resident Justin Moyle said he was alerted to the drama when he heard a loud noise.
“We heard someone yelling, ‘Don’t f—ing move’ – that was the cop – and then at least one gun shot. I don’t know if there was any more,” Mr Moyle said.
“We came down and the guy was lying on the road.
“One of my neighbours was saying she saw part of his head on the road …”
Sally said she was putting her son in bed when she heard three shots.
“I thought,’No it’s not. Is it?’ and it was. It was gunshots,” she said.
“I called 000 immediately and I could see the red and blue lights of the police already there.
Sally said there was a lot of yelling “before, during and after” the shots were fired.
“The whole feeling was really scary,” she said.
Mr Cornelius said initial evidence supported the decision of the two uniform members from the local station to fire on the man.
“It’s pretty clear my officers found themselves in a position where they had no choice but to discharge their firearms in order to prevent themselves from either being seriously injured or killed.”
“No police officer wants to go to work and kill someone.
“I’ve spoken to the members they are very upset and very concerned.”
When asked if the officers were carrying Tasers, Mr Cornelius said only that: “They had the full range of operational safety equipment available to them.”
He would not reveal details of whether capsicum spray had been used or how many shots were fired, but said several officers were at the scene at the time of the shooting.
Police also arrested a 22-year-old man and two women, aged 22 and 26, in connection with the earlier stabbing.
The two women were released this morning pending further inquiries.
Nearby residents, who were denied access to their homes after police cordoned off the area, said they were shocked to learn of the incident.
Police Association boss Greg Davies said his priority was the welfare of the officers.
He said the union had a full-time welfare officer, and funded the force’s employee assistance program.
“It’s a dreadful situation for everyone involved. Police shootings always are,” Sen-Sgt Davies said.
“These things develop in a split second and are almost never a situation which is the making of the police. The police are called there to resolve something, things flare up and unfortunately this sort of result sometimes occurs.
“The Association has put into place what it normally does and will confine to do.”
A woman in her 40s was taken to The Alfred hospital from the hotel just after 7.30pm suffering stab wounds to her upper body.
She was in a stable condition last night.
Homicide detectives and Ethical Standards officers will investigate the shooting.
The Gatwick Hotel is a homeless hostel in St Kilda, where people often live while more permanent government housing is being arranged.
St Kilda residents have also started a Facebook campaign to get rid of the hotel, which many say is a crime hub.
While police are regularly called to the Gatwick to settle disputes, two men have been murdered there in the last six years.
Homeless man Simon Gurfinkel was beaten to death in his bed at the rooming house in 2005.
Father-of-four Arthur Karatasios died in hospital in 2006 after he was repeatedly stabbed by four men out the front of the Gatwick Hotel.
Recent police shootings in Victoria
- December 2008 – Police shot dead 15-year-old Tyler Cassidy after he allegedly advanced on them with knives during a stand-off at a Northcote skate park
- April 2005 – Mohamed Chaouk, 29, was shot dead by police after he allegedly lunged at them with a sword during a dawn raid on his Brooklyn home
- February 2005 – Special Operations Group police shot dead murder suspect Wayne Joannou, 26, of Sydenham, after intercepting a car in South Melbourne
- October 2004 – Jason Chapman, allegedly brandishing a knife, was shot by police after capsicum spray failed to subdue him at Yarraville
- May 2004 – Gregory Biggs, 27, was shot by police after he raised swords at a police officer on Lygon St
- February 2004 – Peter Hubbard, 48, was shot dead by police who said he was brandishing a weapon at them at his home in Ballarat