The victims and the attacker, who also was wounded, suffered “moderate” injuries, police said.
The man began stabbing people in Murrays Bay, Auckland, at around 11 a.m. local time, then walked to Mairangi Bay, where members of the public helped stop the rampage, including an individual who reportedly used a crutch to trip the offender.
Waitemata Police District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan told reporters that if the public hadn’t intervened, the attack could have ended “a lot worse.”
“A number of members of the public were following him, and eventually, one of them intervened,” she said. “It could’ve been a lot worse, and that’s why I really need to acknowledge the bravery of those members of the public that intervened to bring this to a conclusion.”
Hassan acknowledged that the incident was “extremely traumatic” for the victims and sought to assure the public that it was an “isolated incident.” She also emphasised that the attack was “random” and not a “hate crime.”
“The victims were of different gender, ethnicity, and age,” Hassan said.
The alleged attacker is currently in custody under police guard at Auckland City Hospital and will be undergoing further assessments.
‘He Just Started Running at Me’
A local woman told the New Zealand Herald that she had run away screaming for help after a man with a “big knife” chased her off Murrays Bay beach.
“I was wearing headphones and went to take the headphones off to talk to him [when he approached], because that’s what I thought he wanted,” she said.
However, the woman’s gut instinct told her something was wrong, putting her on edge, then “he just started running at me,” she said.
The woman immediately called the police when she managed to shake the man off her tracks. The police arrived 10 minutes later, but she didn’t witness the arrest.
Another witness said the man chased after a young girl, who screamed.
“We thought she was being silly, she was shrieking,” she told Stuff News. “He stabbed two people, totally random. … It all happened very quickly.”
“He then tried to stab another teenage girl, but she got away.”
Police will be increasing their local presence as a result of the incident.
The attack is the latest in a string of incidents in New Zealand, in what has been called a significant crime wave.