MELBOURNE: The driver of an SUV that plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in Melbourne has been released from hospital into police custody as officers investigate the motive for the attack.
The 32-year-old suspect was arrested Thursday after slamming a white SUV into a crowd of people on Flinders Street just before 5 p.m. local time, sending people flying into the air.
Nine of the 18 people injured were foreign nationals from South Korea, China, Italy, India, Venezuela, Ireland and New Zealand, Victoria Police said Friday. The youngest victim was a four-year-old South Korean boy who is now in a stable condition after suffering head injuries.
Three of the injured remain in a critical condition.
A white SUV sits in the middle of the road as police and emergency personnel work at the scene of where a car ran over pedestrians in Flinders Street in Melbourne on December 21, 2017.
Victoria Police said Thursday the incident was a “deliberate act” but said they hadn’t established any link to terrorism.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday called it a “despicable and cowardly act” and a “deeply shocking crime.”
The suspect was an Australian citizen of Afghan descent, who had a history of mental illness and drug use. Turnbull said he arrived in Australia through a refugee program.
“He came to Australia as a refugee. He did not come with a people smuggler, he came through the appropriate refugee, the normal refugee, programs.”
The Prime Minister also stressed that no link had been found between the suspect and any terror organization.
“I want to emphasize because investigations are continuing, apart from that statement, there are no known links to any political issues or any, certainly any links to extremist groups,” he said.