New Zealand was the site of two violent stabbing rampages at supermarkets last year. One was considered a terror attack while a judge found no motive for the other attack.
Last September, a Muslim extremist inspired by the Islamic State group stabbed five people in an Auckland supermarket before police shot and killed him. Three of those he stabbed were critically injured and two other people were also injured in the melee, but all survived.
And in May last year, shoppers and staff at a Dunedin supermarket managed to stop a frenzied man from hurting others after he stabbed four people in a random attack, severely wounding three of them.
The Dunedin attacker, 43-year-old Luke Lambert, was convicted on four counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Among the witnesses to Thursday’s attack was a lady on her walk with a dog. She said a man in a hoodie came out of Seaton Ave and began stabbing people.
The man chased after a 17-year-old girl who screamed, she said.
“We thought she was being silly, she was shrieking.
“He stabbed two people, totally random… it all happened very quickly,” she said.
She was only 20 meters away from the man at one point.
She said the attacker was stopped by construction workers, who hit him with a crutch.
“At this early stage we are still working to confirm the exact number and nature of injuries,” said a police spokesperson.
Another woman said that the incident started in Murrays Bay and moved to nearby Mairangi Bay.
“People screaming. Everything happened so fast. People running, and the cops was there in the same time with big guns, and they have someone in the floor in that moment,” said Maria Paz Tapia.
National police spokesman and MP Mark Mitchell said what had unfolded near a usually peaceful beach was “tragic”. Everyone should be able to go outside “without the fear of being attacked by a knife”, he added.
He could not comment on the specifics of the police investigation, however said it was a “complicated crime scene” with multiple locations.
St John New Zealand had earlier said five people have been injured, and four of those people were taken to Auckland Hospital.
East Coast Bays MP Erica Stanford said Murrays Bay was a small community that would be feeling the impact of the attack.