Two men arrested after car hits crowd in Melbourne

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Flinders St station
Flinders St station is blocked by the police following the car incident in Melbourne, Australia, December 21, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. (REUTERS/ Mohamed Khairat)

Two individuals were arrested in Melbourne, Australia after a car crash that plowed into a crowd of pedestrians Thursday, injuring 18 people.

The sole driver of the sport utility vehicle (SUV) that crashed into the pedestrians was arrested at the scene, while another man was arrested after he was seen filming the entire incident. Authorities said that although the crash was done deliberately, there was no evidence to link it to terrorism.

The 32-year old driver is an Australian citizen of Afghan descent who has had previous encounters with law enforcement but only for minor offenses. He drove a white Suzuki 4-wheel drive SUV into the crowd of Christmas shoppers around 4:40 p.m. local time in front of the iconic Flinders Street railway station.

According to witnesses, they saw pedestrians being flung into the air by the rampaging vehicle, which rammed into the crowd at around 60 miles per hour.

Melbourne police arrived at the scene within seconds. An off-duty police took the driver into custody, but not before he resisted arrest and engaged the police officer in a scuffle, where both men were injured.

According to police, the driver has records of “assault matters,” as well as a history of drug use. They also said that the suspect is on a mental health plan and is receiving treatment for a mental illness.

A 24-year old second man was arrested at the scene after authorities spotted him filming the incident on his phone. Police also found three knives in his bag, although they have not made a connection between him and the driver of the SUV.

“We don’t yet have any relationship established between the 24-year-old man and the driver. In fact, there may be no relationship between them,” said Shane Patton, commissioner of Victoria Police.

Nineteen people, including the driver, were taken to nearby hospitals as a result of the incident, while two individuals were treated at the scene. Three of the hospitalized victims were critically injured.