Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Scene of the Crime


A helicopter hovering above Bourke Street Mall.

A series of dull thuds.

A sudden outcry as of a demonstration marching down the Mall.

A person lying in the intersection of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets as if they’d tripped and fallen.

The sudden shrill of emergency vehicles; police cars travelling at speed up the Mall, crossing the intersection and tearing up towards Queen Street, and others coming from Flinders and Lonsdale Streets and turning at the corner of Elizabeth Street also heading west to Queen.

What had happened?

That was my impression of the horrific incident in Melbourne yesterday.

I was standing on the tram stop outside the old GPO as the tragedy unfolded and didn’t actually see the crime, a stationary tram on the other side of the street blocked my view, so I didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t find out until I got home and looked it up online.

It all happened in a very short space of time, so I’m only left with the above fleeting impressions, but the huge number of police cars present indicated that something serious was afoot.

Ignorance is bliss, as I didn’t feel very alarmed at all, just puzzled by the drama. I thank my lucky stars that I wasn’t on the other side of the street or it could well have been a different story.

Bourke Street Mall is generally a laid back spot with  buskers entertaining the crowds sitting on the GPO steps, while tourists take photos of themselves on the Public Purse sculpture which lies on the footpath outside the GPO on the tram stop.

That’s the closest proximity I’ve had to a murderous crime, but have been in hearing range of several others – the Russell Street bombing in 1986 and the Hoddle Street massacre of 1987 – which freaked me out more than did yesterday’s crime.

Everytime I wait for a tram from now, on the corner of Elizabeth and Bourke, I’ll remember yesterday’s outrage, even if I didn’t witness it.


Whispering Gums said...

Scary, Anne. Our teacher son (so on holidays) arrived in the city just minutes after and quickly messaged us to tell us he was OK. The chances of his being right there was of course minimal - as for you being so close - but that's what these freak deaths like this are about isn't it? Ordinary people going about their ordinary business happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when some one decides to run amok. Thanks for posting this. I'm sure it will stay with you as you say for a long time because you were so close and you can't forget what you heard.

JahTeh said...

My son missed death twice while working part time during school holidays, an armed robbery and if you remember, that tall building when the glass windows fell to the pavement.
I felt for the mothers, you can't run with a pram and you can't leave your child.

Anne S said...

That tall building I believe was 555 Lonsdale Street where I spent the last four years of my working life.

I'm still amazed that the stationary tram saved me from witnessing the incident. I was at the scene of the crime again on Friday and there were hordes of people reading the tributes. I'm afraid that what came into my mind when I saw the crowd was that it resembled a sort of grim Myers Christmas Windows queue.