New Zealand: ‘Heroic’ bystanders detain man after mass stabbing attack in supermarket

Police take a suspect into custody

Shoppers and staff in New Zealand have been hailed as heroes after stopping a man from injuring others in a mass stabbing in a supermarket.

Four people were injured in the knife attack, three critically. Two of those wounded were supermarket staff members.

New Zealand Police superintendent Paul Basham said he had watched CCTV footage of the attack at a Countdown supermarket in the city of Dunedin, home to around 130,000 people.

He described the actions of the bystanders in detaining the man until police arrived as “nothing short of heroic”.

Paramedics take a victim to an ambulance outside a Countdown supermarket in central Dunedin, New Zealand. Credit: AP

“What I can say is that those that intervened, some of whom became injured themselves, I think have acted selflessly and with great courage to prevent this man from hurting anybody else,” he said.

Three of the wounded were admitted to the intensive care unit at Dunedin Hospital.

Police said the suspect was also injured and was being treated for his wounds under police guard. Police said they expected to charge him later.

People in the store at the time told local media that it was a chaotic scene as some people began screaming and running towards the exits while others rushed to help.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern paid tribute to the bystanders who stopped the attacker. Credit: AP

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the motivation for the attack had not been established but police did not have any evidence to suggest it was domestic terrorism.

“Needless to say that such an attack is hugely concerning, and I do want to acknowledge the really early reports of courageous acts by bystanders who have taken action in order to protect those around them,” Ms Ardern said. “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this attack.”.

“We are shocked and devastated by the events in our Dunedin Central Store this afternoon,” Countdown said in a statement.

“Our priority right now is our injured team members and caring for our wider team in the wake of this extremely traumatic event. We are deeply upset that customers who tried to help our team members were also injured.”

Countdown general manager, Kiri Hannifin told local media: "And now this is just incredibly distressing, for our customers to be injured in the process as well, that we can't seem to do enough to keep our people safe just takes my breath away. I've got no words really."