Australian police on Tuesday (February 28) shot dead a 32-year-old Indian national after he allegedly stabbed a cleaner at a railway station in Sydney and threatened law enforcement officers, said Australian media reports.
The Consulate General of India in Sydney identified the deceased as Mohamed Rahmathullah Syed Ahmed from Tamil Nadu. He allegedly attacked a 28-year-old cleaner at Auburn train station in Sydney before arriving at Auburn police station, Sydney Morning Herald newspaper quoted police officials as saying.
Two police officers were leaving the police station when Ahmed allegedly tried to attack them, the report said. A police officer fired three shots, two of which hit Ahmed in the chest. A probationary constable also used her Taser on him, it said.
“Disturbing and unfortunate incident”
Ahmed was immediately treated at the scene by paramedics and was taken to a local hospital. But he was pronounced dead, the report said. Police officers are investigating whether mental health played a part in Ahmed stabbing the cleaner and threatening the police officers, it said.
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Ahmed had five previous interactions with the police, all of which were non-criminal and COVID-19-related, the report said. He was living in Australia on a bridging visa (a temporary visa).
“The incident is extremely disturbing and unfortunate. We have formally taken up the matter with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New South Wales Office, as well as state police authorities,” said the Indian consulate.
“No choice but to shoot”
New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith defended the officers at a press conference on Tuesday. He said they had just seconds to respond and were left with no choice but to shoot Ahmed.
“I fully support these officers. It’s traumatic. It’s a significant incident at one of our police stations,” he said. “There just isn’t an impending time. It is immediate. He launches through the glass doors at the officers; they had very little time to react,” he said. The report quoted Smith as saying that the counter-terrorism unit would be brought in to help with the investigation.
Police have also spoken to the cleaner, who was admitted to a hospital in Melbourne and is said to be in a stable condition. Smith said he suffered a puncture wound to his left forearm before the attacker continued to slash him in a frenzied attack after he fell to the ground.
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The two men were not known to each other, the report said, quoting police officials. “We’re working through him and his family in getting his version and it will be part of the critical incident,” said an official.
The Consulate General of India said Ahmed was identified as a suspect in the stabbing incident at Auburn Railway Station, and it was providing all possible assistance to the police. “We have asked for a complete report on the circumstances of the shooting of an Indian national,” the consulate added.
(With agency inputs)