A man arrested after driving erratically down Melbourne’s busy Flinders Street caused a lockdown and revived horrific memories for the city.
The 26-year-old was arrested without incident and no one was hurt, in stark contrast to the 2017 Bourke St massacre and a similar vehicle attack later that year, also on Flinders St.
After stopping his car outside Flinders St train station at the intersection with Swanston St on Wednesday afternoon, the man climbed onto the roof of a silver sedan and yelled for police to get him.
He then returned to the car and did a doughnut, repeating the actions at the same intersection of James Gargasoulas who then mowed down and killed six pedestrians in his car in Bourke St three years ago.
“The vehicle has then done a circle within the intersection, he stalled the vehicle and then drove down to the intersection … at Flinders and Williams streets where he stopped, put his hazard lights on and police intercepted him,” Superintendent Dan Trimble told reporters at the scene.
The man had no weapons on him and no one was injured.
The incident has stark similarities to the deadly 2017 Bourke Street attack, when Gargasoulas also did donuts in front of Flinders Street station before his rampage through the shopping mall.
Supt Trimble said he was “absolutely” concerned there would be a repeat of the tragedy on Wednesday afternoon, but authorities did not have to use all of the extra security measures put in place since that attack.
A critical incident response team helped detain the man and the bomb squad was called in to examine the backpack.
The bag was cleared by specialist officers and the incident was not being treated as terror-related.
Police quickly expanded the closed-off area to include parts of King, William, Market and Queensbridge streets because of the bag.
Trams and trains were delayed because of the incident, which lasted five minutes before the man’s arrest.
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