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The Day Terror Came To Australa
Lindt Café Martin Place
A Normal Day
Monday December 15th, 2014 was just another day. People in the New South Wales capital of Sydney went about their daily business. Grabbing a coffee on the way to work, finishing off their Christmas shopping, meeting with friends.
At the Lindt Café, located in Martin Place it was business as usual, until a male customer asked to speak to the manager, Tori Johnson.
The Morning Show Breaks the Story
Shortly after 9:30am (EDST), Tori Johnson was instructed to have one of the staff members to lock all of the doors. He was then told to contact the police. The police were called at 9:45am (EDST).
As staff and customers tried to enter the café, they noticed the doors were locked, but there were people inside. At that stage, it was assumed by many that the café was being robbed.
Hostages Forced To Hold Up Flag
The first anybody really knew there was any problems was when the people inside the café were seen standing in front of the windows with their hands up, then they were forced to hold up a black flag, with Arabic writing on it.
It was initially thought the flag was connected to the Islamic State (IS), but later confirmed to be a flag with the Shahada (an Islamic declaration of faith) which read "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is the messenger of God."
Snipper Positioned in the Channel 7 Building
Police and Tactical Operations Unit Wait
Police quickly arrive at Martin Place and access the situation. It becomes quickly apparent that it is not an armed hold up, but a hostage situation. Police quickly and carefully evacuate the building around the café, and cordon off an exclusion zone of 150 metres.
Across the street inside the Channel 7 building police snippers set up their position, one of the Channel 7 cameramen, Greg Parker, had set up several cameras pointing directly into the café. He kept watch of what was happening inside the café for the duration of the siege.
For the next 16 hours, the police and tactical operations unit waited.
The Red Area Indicates The Lockdown Area At Martin Place
Martin Place is located in the middle of Sydney's business district. There are several banks, including the Reserve Bank of Australia in the area, as well as the New South Wales Premier's office and the U.S embassy.
Several buildings in Martin Place were evacuated and locked down, including the Channel 7 news building which was located across the street. One floor of the channel 7 building became an important vantage point for police snippers during the hostage situation.
The Martin Place train station, Supreme Court, Sydney Hospital, State Library of New South Wales and New South Wales Parliament were also put into lockdown, as well as public schools in the area and the Sydney Opera House, which was evacuated when a suspicious package was located in the area.
As well as buildings, several streets and roads were also closed causing traffic chaos as people tried to escape the city.
Hostage Takes to Facebook Demanding Gunman's Demands Are Met
Phone Calls and Demands
The gunman ordered hostages to make several phone calls to police and media to make his demands known to the police and the media. He had two demands.
- He wanted an IS flag.
- He wanted to speak to Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, live on radio.
These demands were made several times during the day, but went unmet, even when the gunman threatened to start killing the hostages.
With demands remaining unmet and Martin Place seeming to be deserted, the hostages began to feel they were completely alone and would not survive.
New South Wales Premier and Police Commissioner's Press Conference
The police released very little information during the siege. It was unknown how many hostages were inside the café, at one stage it was reported the number of hostages could be as high as 50.
It was also unknown whether there was more than one gunman, whether or not he had explosives, what his name was and if he had any links to any terrorist organisations, such as Islamic State.
The First Hostages Escape
The Last Escape
Just after 3:30pm (EDST) three male hostages managed to escape the café, they ran into the waiting Tacticle Operations Unit and escorted from the area to be debriefed.
After the escapes, the gunman threatens to kill hostages if anyone else escapes.
Almost 90 minutes later, two female hostages, both Lindt Café employees, manage to escape, their escape seems to go unnoticed by the gunman.
It is not until 2am (EDST) that the final escape takes place. As the hostages made a run for safety, the gunman began to open fire. All of the hostages in that group made it to safety.
Finally, minutes later one final hostage makes a run for freedom and is quickly rushed to safety by the waiting police.
The remaining hostages would not have a chance to escape.
Footage Captured By Channel 7 Cameraman Greg Parker
The Ordeal Comes To An End
Shortly before 2:15am (EDST) a single shot was heard from inside the café, followed by the snipper across in the Channel 7 building confirming everybody's worst fears - "Window 2, Hostage Down".
Seconds later the Tactical Operations Unit stormed the café, throwing smoke bombs and opening fire. Within a minute, the siege was over.
Police confirmed a short time later, the gunman, now identified as Man Haron Monis, had been killed by the police. They also confirmed two of the hostages had been killed, three hostages and a police officer had been injured. No other details were immediately released.
Australian Newspaper Headlines on December 16th, 2014
Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnston Died During the Final Moments
Reality Hits Home
As the sun rose on Tuesday December 16th, 2014 a few more details were released and by the time the morning shows aired the victims names had been released. The morning shows across the country were able to release the following information;
- The gunman's name - Man Haron Monis.
- Monis was the lone perpetrator of the siege.
- Monis was on the Australian's security watch list.
- It was unclear whether or not Monis was a member of Islamic State.
- Lindt Café manager Tori Johnston and barrister Katrina Dawson were killed, at that stage the exact circumstances were unknown.
- Marcia Mikhael, Robin Hope, Louisa Hope and a police officer were injured and taken to hospital.
In the days that followed it was revealed that Tori Johnston was killed by the gunman in the minutes leading up to police storming into the café and Katrina Dawson was killed when she was hit by the ricochet of the police bullets.
Martin Place Becomes a Sea of Flowers
Australia awoke the following morning to the news the siege was over, the gunman had been killed when police stormed the café, and, two of the hostages had also been killed.
A shroud of grief overcame the country as we came to terms with what had happened while we slept and tried to make sense of it.
Later that morning, after the police determined Martin Place to be safe, people began to leave flowers at the site. Over the next several day that flowers, cards and other tributed poured in, as well as books of condolence for the families of the victims.
Members of the community, concerned with possible violent retaliations against member of the Islamic community, #i'llridewithyou was started to create a feeling of safety among the Muslim community traveling on public transport. More than 150 000 people indicated their support by using the hashtag.
#i'llridewithyou also received international attention.
60 Minutes Special part 4
The Survivors Speak
Both Channel 7 and Channel 9 interviewed several of the survivors, these interviews were broadcasted in early February.
Some of the survivors have been publicly criticized for selling their stories.
An inquest is currently underway to determine the following;
- How was it possible for Man Haron Monis, who was on the Australian security watch list, to drop off the radar in the days leading up to the siege.
- How the three deaths occurred
- The factors that contributed to them and
- wheather they could have been prevented.
The finding of the inquest are expected to be handed down by the State Coroner in 2016.
The Lindt Café After the Seige
Nothing like this had ever happened to Australia and there will most likely be lessons learned, because there is little doubt that something like this will happen again.
Work is currently being done in the Lindt Café to repair the damage done during the crisis. It is hoped the café will reopen by the end of March, 2015. A memorial will be constructed to remember Tori Johnston and Katrina Dawson.