Tue, Jun 19, 2007 - Page 4 News List

`Good Samaritan' slain in Melbourne

IN COLD BLOOD Two men tried to rescue a woman seen struggling with a man holding her by the hair, who opened fire on them, killing one and injuring two

AFP , MELBOURNE

A good Samaritan who apparently went to the aid of a woman struggling with an armed man in central Melbourne was shot dead yesterday and two were wounded, police and witnesses said.

Police said they were still hunting the killer who opened fire during the morning rush-hour in the business district of Australia's second-largest city.

The shooting erupted after two men reportedly intervened as the gunman struggled to pull the woman out of a taxi.

"She was screaming and a guy had her by the hair," witness Ross Murchie told national radio.

"She tried to grab hold of a taxi that was going by and the couple of bystanders went over to ask what was happening ... He let go of her hair, pulled out a gun and shot them all," Murchie said.

One man died at the scene while a man in his 30s and a 24-year-old woman were rushed to Royal Melbourne Hospital, where they were in serious condition.

Police Inspector Glenn Weir said it appeared the shooting stemmed from a domestic incident between the man and the woman.

"It does appear that there was a relationship between the female and the male suspect and certainly we're not looking that it's a random act, certainly not gang-related -- it appears as though it's a domestic-related incident," Weir said.

Police were investigating whether the two male victims were good Samaritans who had come to the woman's aid as she struggled with the gunman in the street, he said.

"That's certainly one of the avenues of inquiry that we're undertaking and that looks more likely as time goes on," he said.

Homicide Detective Inspector Stephen Clark said some witnesses said they had seen an altercation between a man and a woman in a nearby nightclub area 10 minutes before the shooting.

"It appears there has been an initial assault that had taken place in King Street in the nightclub area," he said.

Witness Zali Nash told ABC radio the gunman was "as cool as a cucumber" as he shot the victims.

"He just went bang, bang, bang, there was no mucking around," she said. "There were five shots fired and the people went straight down to the ground. There wasn't even a scream, just a whimper."

Police locked down the area, evacuating some office buildings, to track the killer and later found a handgun and a dark jacket at a construction site which they were confident belonged to the gunman.

In recent years Melbourne has experienced a bloody tit-for-tat gangland war, which began in the late 1990s and eventually claimed 29 lives, including several in public.

But one of the worst public shootings in the city was the Hoddle Street massacre in August 1987, when seven people died and more than a dozen were injured when a former army cadet began taking random shots.

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