Residents of a quiet suburban house had no idea a ISIS-inspired terrorist was lurking in their backyard plotting mass murder for the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, 30, lived with his wife and young child in a bungalow at the back of the home in Meadow Heights for about a year before he went on a knife rampage through Bourke Street on Friday.
The Somali immigrant mounted the kerb on the busy shopping strip about 4.20pm before setting the car on fire and stabbing three men, one fatally, before being shot dead by police.
Counter-terrorism officers raided the house on Pinnaroo Circuit on Saturday morning, along with that of Ali’s father in Werribee on the other side of Melbourne.
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Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, 30, is believed to have lived in a bungalow at the back of the home in Meadow Heights before he went on a knife rampage through Burke Street on Friday
The young family who lived in the main home were said to be oblivious to what was going on in the bungalow neighbours said was often rented out
The young family who lived in the main home were said to be oblivious to what was going on in the bungalow neighbours said was often rented out.
A neighbour said he believed Ali worked as some sort of tradesman and would often see him leaving in his ute – likely the same Holden Rodeo that was used in the attack.
The man noted the young family would go for walks around the neighbourhood at night.
Another neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said the killer mostly kept to himself, but spoke up when he objected to some loud music.
‘He didn’t like Tupac,’ she said. ‘He didn’t like the language.’
But she said Ali also displayed some neighbourly qualities: ‘He stopped by one time and asked if we needed anything from the shop,’ she said.
Ali was living in the bungalow after breaking with Somali tradition and moving out of the family home in Werribee amid a strained relationship with his parents.
He was abusing drugs and struggled with mental health issues that caused his life to ‘spiral out of control’ in recent years and his family worried about him.
‘[He was] complaining he was being chased by unseen people with spears,’ family friend Imam Isse Musse told The Age.
Hassan Khalif Shire Ali attempt to stab and slash at two police officers before he was shot and fell to the ground. He earlier stabbed three people and set fire to his car on Melbourne’s Bourke Street
Counter-terrorism officers raided the house on Pinnaroo Circuit on Saturday morning, followed by forensics officers and detectives
A detective can be seen at the entrance to the bungalow out the back of the family’s house
Police zeroed in on Ali’s home as they searched for answers hours after the second attack on Bourke Street in a year, which left a Melbourne cafe legend dead in the street.
Sisto Malaspina, 74, was murdered after he ran to help what he thought was a car crash victim just blocks from his iconic Pellegrini’s coffee shop.
However, Ali had deliberately crashed his truck that was loaded with gas canisters and set the car alight after mounting the pavement near the Swanson Street intersection.
By trying to do a good deed, Mr Malaspina, who became a grandfather last Saturday, became the murderous knifeman’s first victim. Soon two others would also be stabbed before Khalif attacked police.
Video shot from the scene showed the frenzied attack that carried on for more than a minute as Khalif chased the officers around as they tried to convince him to surrender, before finally shooting him.
Melbourne cafe legend Sisto Malaspina was stabbed to death during a terrorist’s knife rampage through Bourke Street just blocks form his iconic Pellegrini’s coffee shop
Mr Malaspina’s body was on Friday seen lying in the street covered by a white sheet with a bare foot sticking out after bystanders unsuccessfully tried to save his life
Ali planned to ram into pedestrians with his ute or drive it into a shop and kill whoever was there, then set the car on fire to detonate three gas bottles in the back tray to create a deadly explosion.
However, this was foiled by his ineptitude and lack of access to even low-level explosives and that the fire didn’t reach the gas bottles and make them explode and spray pedestrians with shrapnel.
‘Looks like there was some attempt to light a fire there were gas cylinders they had been turned to open,’ Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said.
‘It certainly wasn’t remotely sophisticated, it wasn’t effective the car caught fire and was controlled pretty quickly.’
His plan to stab as many people to death as possible was also ruined when two nearby police officers arrived in just 90 seconds, during which time he only stabbed three people.
The two policemen were very junior officers and the one who fired the shot that mortally wounded Ali had only been out of the academy for three months.
‘They’re both reasonably new members, the member that fired was only out of academy three months. He has family members in Victoria Police police,’ Chief Ashton said.
‘They are now off duty with family members due to speak with them. They are in good spirits but shaken up, particularly being junior members.
‘From what I saw of the footage, I think they followed their training very well.’
Chief Ashton said the man who tried to stop Khalif’s attack on police by bravely ramming him with a trolley has been spoken to be police, and praised his actions.
‘People act in the spur of the moment and that’s what he’s done, he’s attempted to the police and do what he could,’ he said.
‘Certainly people have to be careful that they’re not putting themselves in harms way if police are there, but certainly he’s done what he thought was the right thing at the time.’
By trying to do a good deed, Mr Malaspina became the murderous knifeman’s first victim. Soon two others would also be stabbed before Khalif was shot dead by police
One witness said he was ‘terrified’ after seeing a body covered in a white sheet on the footpath
Two victims lie on the ground in pools of blood after being stabbed by the knifeman in the street, as bystanders rush to their aid
Markel Villasin, 22, saw Mr Malaspina was breathing but appeared to be ‘bleeding out’ as he lay in a pool of blood, as emergency responders attempted to resuscitate him using CPR
Police said Khalif was inspired by ISIS to commit jihad, but they were unsure if he had direct contrast with the terrorist group. ISIS claimed his as one of their own, but often falsely associate themselves with lone wolf attacks.
Khalif’s passport was cancelled in 2015 after he was flagged as one of 300 potential security risks when he it was discovered he planned to travel to Syria.
Assistant AFP Commissioner Ian McCartney said in a press conference late on Saturday morning that though Khalif was on their radar, police decided not to intervene.
‘While he held radical ideals, he didn’t hold a threat,’ he said. ‘It’s a reality check for us that even with the fall of the Caliphate (with ISIS-held territory taken back in Syria and Iraq) the threat is still very real.
‘It’s a complex and challenging business working on these threats on a daily basis the assessment was that he wasn’t a threat at that time.
‘Obviously in terms of when he turned from radicalisation to these actions will be a focus of these investigations.’
Commissioner McCartney confirmed Khalif was inspired by ISIS propaganda online.
Khalif’s family were known to counter-terror agencies and believed to have ties with North African extremist groups.
Heartbroken friends and longtime customers left floral tributes to the slain food icon outside the Pellegrini’s, just down Bourke Street near the Exhibition Street intersection.
Staff were in shock and a sign on the door said the cafe would be closed until November 12, with police standing guard outside.
Mr Malaspina’s body was on Friday seen lying in the street covered by a white sheet with a bare foot sticking out after bystanders unsuccessfully tried to save his life.
After confronting Khalif, officers retreated to the other side of the road as the bearded attacker with a shaved head and dressed in a long brown tunic, pursued them as horrified bystanders called on police to shoot him
Witnesses said the Holden Rodeo hit a pedestrian as it mounted the kerb and burst into flames outside Target near the Swanson Street intersection about 4.20pm on Friday, before the stabbing rampage began
Markel Villasin, 22 and his bosses ran out of their KFC store when they heard a ‘commotion’ and saw Khalif holding a knife and swinging it at police officers.
‘It looked like police officers didn’t know how to handle the situation because obviously in Melbourne it’s so rare,’ Mr Villasin told ABC.
Mr Villasin saw Mr Malaspina was breathing but appeared to be ‘bleeding out’ as he lay in a pool of blood, as emergency responders attempted to resuscitate him using CPR.
‘Unfortunately, the man passed away, they put a sheet on him. It was crazy because he was alive at my feet as they tried to work on him and then he passed away,’ he said.
Mr Malaspina came to Australia from Italy and took over Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar in 1976 with his business partner Nino Pangrazio and maintained its original 1954 decor.
The cafe, with its heritage-listed neon sign, became a popular haunt for urban professionals, tourists, and even politicians like former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
Heavily-armed officers wearing tactical gear and masks swooped on the home in Werribee about 8am on Saturday as they continue to investigate Hassan Khalif Shire Ali’s attack
His family are inside the house and cooperating with authorities. Khalif’s wife, who police also believe to be radicalised, was missing on Friday night but has since been interviewed by police
A Muslim woman talks to police at the house of the terrorist’s father. His family are cooperating with police
Neighbour Patricia Rouse said she was shocked by the raid on Khalif’s family home across the street in Werribee
Heavily-armed officers wearing tactical gear and masks swooped on a home in Werribee linked to Khalif about 8am on Saturday. The house is believed to be that of the lone wolf terrorist’s father.
His family are inside the house and cooperating with authorities. Khalif’s wife, who police also believe to be radicalised, was missing on Friday night but has since been interviewed by police.
Neighbour Patricia Rouse said she was shocked by the raid on Khalif’s family home across the street in Werribee.
‘I did hear them ask if there were any kids on there last night and I think there was a young boy who was 15,’ she said.
Ms Rouse said she believed one of the couple’s daughters ran for local council last year.
‘I don’t know how she did,’ she said. ‘But I don’t see them, honestly. All is see is the mother might be going shopping.’
Ms Rouse said it was disturbing to think a terror cell might be linked to her quiet street. ‘But whether it’s connected to anything I don’t know,’ she said.
The man was quickly arrested on the pavement by two officers in front of shocked pedestrians who stood back to film it
Rodney Patterson (second from left) was one of three people who were knifed by the Somali-born attacker, who was shot dead by police after crashing a car and setting it on fire
The rampage began when Khalif mounted the kerb and crashed his Holden Rodeo on the pavement before setting it on fire to ignite a makeshift bomb made of a barbeque gas bottle.
He then stabbed Mr Malaspina to death and wounded Tasmanian businessman Rod Patterson, 58, and a 26-year-old security guard from Hampton Park, Melbourne.
Two police officers then arrived on the scene to investigate the car fire and Khalif charged at them, punching one through a car window and lunging at them with a knife.
He then chased the officers around a tree as they tried to avoid his blows and convince the man to surrender, and a brave bystander tried to stop the attack by running him down with a shopping trolley.
The officers then retreated to the other side of the road as the bearded attacker with a shaved head and dressed in a long brown tunic, pursued them as horrified bystanders called on police to shoot him.
Khalif again attempted to stab and slash at the officers several times before one policeman unsuccessfully tried to taser him and his partner shot the assailant in the chest.
Victoria Police said officers responded to reports of a car fire (pictured) before they were confronted by the man
The burned-out car sitting where it crashed on to the pavement and exploded before the rampage began
He clutched his chest and and fell to the ground where he was quickly arrested on the pavement by two officers and rushed to hospital under police guard. No officers were injured.
Khalif died one the operating table at Royal Melbourne Hospital within a few hours of being shot.
Chief Ashton said the officers followed their training and first tried to talk the attacker down before using non-lethal methods including capsicum spray and tasers.
‘It was a quick emerging event and the first thing they are trained to do is create space and have a conversation to verbally de-escalate but that wasn’t successful,’ he said.
However, he rejected the view that they could have shot Khalif in the leg. ‘Once officers are of the view they have to draw firearms they do so, they have to shoot to kill,’ he said.
Mr Patterson said he was stabbed as he tried to help Mr Malaspina as the cafe owner lay bleeding on the ground.
‘Yesterday, whilst out with my wife Maree enjoying another great day in Melbourne, a city that we love, we were unfortunately caught up in the incident on Bourke Street,’ he said.
‘I went to assist and whilst doing so received a knife wound to my head.
Tasmanian MP Will Hodgman praised Mr Patterson’s ‘brave’ actions.
Bourke Street Rampage 2017
January 17, 2017: James Gargasoulas told a co-worker that if he were to be chased by police, he would keep driving and start running into people.
January 18, 2017: Gargasoulas stole a Holden Commodore from Windsor.
Early January 20, 2017: Gargasoulas and his brother got into a heated argument at their mother’s apartment. James attacked him with a large knife. He then met up with an associate at the Gatwick Hotel in St Kilda, where he told him that he was going to do something ‘drastic’, and to ‘watch me, you’ll see me tonight on the news.’
January 20, 2017: Gargasoulas, 28, led police on a chase through Melbourne’s CBD. He ploughed his maroon Holden Commodore through pedestrians on Bourke Street during the lunch-time rush. Six people were killed and another 27 were injured.
March 1, 2018: Gargasoulas entered a mental health plea, telling the court he was suffering from schizophrenia in the weeks leading up to the attack in the hopes of avoiding a trial.
June 14, 2018: A jury determined Gargasoulas does in fact have a mental illness, but is still fit to stand trial.
November 7, 2018: Gargasoulas’ trial begins in Melbourne.
November 8, 2018: Gargasoulas pleads not guilty to all 33 charges against him, including murder.
November 9, 2018: The trial continues.