People who knew the Bourke Street attacker, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, say he suffered delusions and substance abuse problems in the lead-up to his terrorist attack in the centre of Melbourne on Friday, and believed he was being chased by “unseen people with spears”.
Victoria police have also confirmed that two victims of Shire Ali’s attack in Melbourne are in a stable condition and recovering, as tributes continue to flow in for cafe owner Sisto Malaspina, 74, who was killed on Friday afternoon.
The Bourke Street attacker drove a 4×4 vehicle loaded with gas bottles into Melbourne’s city centre, ignited the vehicle into a ball of flames, and then stabbed three people. Shire Ali was shot by police and later died in hospital.
Shire Ali came to Australian from Somalia in the 1990s. He had his passport cancelled in 2015, but was not being actively monitored before the attack, police said.
Isse Musse, an imam who was a friend of Shire Ali’s family, told the Age on Saturday that Shire Ali had become increasingly “deluded”, estranged from his family and paranoid.
“[He was] complaining he was being chased by unseen people with spears,” Musse said. “They don’t know if he’s taking drugs or what.”
Musse, who was close to Shire Ali’s family but not Shire Ali himself, said it seemed the man’s life had “spun out of control”.
He said the attacker, 30, had attended his mosque “many years ago, when he was 11 years old or so”, but hadn’t attended for the nearly 20 years since.
On Saturday and Sunday, more information was also revealed about the other two victims of Shire Ali’s attack.
Rod Patterson, 58, sustained a head injury on Friday and underwent surgery in hospital over the weekend.
On Saturday he posted a photo of himself in his hospital bed recovering well.
Patterson, a businessman and past president of the South Launceston Football Club, has been praised by members of his community as well as the Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman.
The other victim was identified as a 24-year-old security guard who worked for the company SecureCorp.
A SecureCorp spokeswoman confirmed to the Age an employee of theirs had been stabbed in the neck but said he was in a stable condition.
One of the bystanders to the attack, dubbed “Trolley Man” for his actions in helping stop Shire Ali, has also been identified.
Michael Rogers, a 46-year-old homeless man, was interviewed by Channel 7, and told a reporter that he was “no hero”.
“I threw the trolley straight at him, and I got him,” he said. “I didn’t quite get him down, though. I’m no hero.”