The Events of Hoddle Street

ON THIS DAY ………. 9th August 1987

Hoddle Street is where the majority of the shootings took place. The first car that Knight opened fire on contained a married couple, Con and Rita Vitkos. Rita received minor wounds and her husband drove on before stopping at a Mobil service station about 150 metres further south down Hoddle Street. Following the Vitkos’s was a car containing Michael Anthony and Trevor Smeelie, and a car driven by Gregory Elliott. A bullet struck Elliott’s vehicle, narrowly missing his head. Both of these cars were damaged but none of the occupants was wounded. Following Elliott’s car was a car driven by Alan Jury and containing Monica Vitelli and Dannielle Mina. Jury and Vitelli were both wounded and they joined the others at the Mobil service station.

Knight fired rapid bursts at each car, and he reloaded with spare 10-round Ruger magazines as he moved north along the nature-strip towards the nearby Clifton Hill railway station. He ensured that he fired on every south and north-bound vehicle as it passed him, The next car he fired on contained Raewyn Crighton, Bernd Micheel and Dianne Arnold, who all escaped injury. The following car was driven by Sand Wang, who received minor wounds. The next car was driven by Diane Fitzpatrick, who received a serious back wound. The next three cars to be shot at contained Michael Pearce and Jacqueline Langosch, Issac Lohman, and Reginald Dutton and Dana Sabolcki respectively, and they were all fortunate to escape injury.

At around 9.35pm Knight ran out of ammunition for the Ruger, so he dropped it on the nature-strip and commenced firing with the Mossberg shotgun. The loud blasts of the shotgun alerted local residents to the shooting and the first calls were made to the Victoria Police’s emergency communications centre, D24. The first car to be fired at with the shotgun contained Sharyn Maunder, who did not receive any wound and who did not realize the front of her car had been hit. The next car to be hit was driven by Vesna Markovska, who received minor wounds, followed by a car driven by her fiance, Zoran Trajceski, who also received minor wounds. Both Markovska and Trajceski parked their cars by the side of the road and got out to take cover. As they did so a car driven by Georgina “Gina” Papaioannou stopped on the opposite side of the street. Knight immediately fired on the car and Gina was slightly wounded. Soon afterwards a car driven by Jayne Morris, and also containing Kay Edwards and Cecily Caulis, drove south through the ambush zone.

Further south down Hoddle Street they flagged down a police divisional van containing Constable Glen Nichols and Constable Belinda Bourchier, and informed them about the shootings. Nichols and Bourchier immediately drove to the scene with their lights and siren on as they radioed D24. Soon after 9.38pm they reached the intersection of Hoddle Street and Ramsden Street and they were shot at by Knight. Knight continued to change position as he fired at a procession of four single occupant cars which, in chronological order, were driven by Mathew Morrow, Edward McShortall, Trevor Robinson and Keith Wing Shing. McShortall received minor wounds but Wing Shing, who stopped his car opposite Knight, received serious jaw and throat wounds. Knight continued to reload and change position as he continued to fire at the passing cars. The next car Knight fired at was a car containing Kevin Skinner, his wife Tracey and their son Adam. Tracey was killed instantly by a blast to the face and Adam, who was on her lap below the window sill, received minor glass wounds. Following this, a local resident, Peter Curmi, and a friend of his, John Muscat, approached the scene from the western side of the street. Knight fired one shot at them which fatally wounded Muscat in the head and chest, and which seriously wounded Curmi. Immediately after this the attendant at the nearby swimming pool, Steve Wight, ran to their aid and was seriously wounded by Knight’s final shotgun blast.

It was now 9.39pm and numerous police units were rushing to the scene. Knight dropped the empty Mossberg shotgun on the ground and took up a prone firing position with his M14 rifle. At this point Vesna Markovska broke cover from behind her car and made for the footpath on the eastern side of Hoddle Street. As she stepped onto the footpath she was spotted by Knight who fired a shot which seriously wounded her. When she fell back onto the roadway Knight fired two further shots which killed her. It was now 9.40pm and D24 notified the Police Air Wing that one of their Aerospatiale Dauphin police helicopters was needed to assist the police at the scene. Moments later, in a break in the firing, one of the police officers on the western side of Hoddle Street fired a shot at Knight, which missed him by only a couple of metres. Immediately following this shot Robert Mitchell, who had driven through the ambush zone unscathed and parked his car further down Hoddle Street, ran up the eastern side of the street in an attempt to render assistance to the fallen Markovska. As he reached her and came to a halt, Knight quickly fired a shot at him which hit him in the right side of the head and killed him instantly. At 9.41pm, as three police units took up positions in Mayors Park on the western side of Hoddle Street and other police units took up positions in the surrounding area, Knight opened fire on a car driven by Jacqueline Turner and on Gina Papaioannou as she walked from her car to help Markovska and Mitchell. Turner’s car was not hit but Papaioannou was fatally wounded in the left side as she reached Markovska. Following this, Knight fired on a car driven by John Finn who received minor wounds. The next car Knight shot at was driven by Andrew Hack who was seriously wounded in the left side. Following Hack was a car driven by Dusan Flajnik which Knight fired at. Flajnik was hit in the left side and bled to death in his car. At 9.43pm Constable Bourchier requested another ambulance from D24 and nominated the Mobil service station as a safe rendezvous point for ambulances as two more police units arrived there. The next car to be shot at contained Michael Smith and Jacqueline Megens. Smith received minor wounds while Megens was seriously wounded in the shoulder. As they were fired upon the first two ambulances arrived at the scene; one at the Mobil service station and one at Mayors Park.

It was now 9.44pm and the next car to be shot at was driven by Steven Mihailidis who escaped unscathed. Immediately afterwards Knight fired at the rider of a motorcycle, Kenneth “Shane” Stanton, who was hit in the left leg and fell onto the roadway. As he lay there Knight shot him a further two times and he eventually died.

Soon afterwards, at 9.45pm, a car containing Dimitrios Collyvas, Renata Coldebella, Danny Coldebella and Danny De Luca, followed Staton down Hoddle Street. Knight, who was by this time beside the southern end of the Clifton Hill railway station buildings, fired a shot at the front of the car. The car stopped and as it reversed back up the street Knight fired two more shots at into it before it crashed into a police car, driven by Constable Dominic Cannizzaro, which had just arrived at the scene. The first shot that Knight had fired into the car had slightly wounded Renata, and the second shot he fired had seriously wounded Danny Coldebella. As Collyvas’s car was reversing a motorcycle being ridden by Wayne Timms and Jayne Timbury, followed by a car containing Alexandra Stamatopoulos, Steven Stamatopoulos, Irene Fountis, Vicki Fountis and Panagioti Fountis, drove into the ambush zone and stopped opposite Collyvas’s car. At this point Knight, who was surrounded by at least 40 armed police officers, decided to withdraw from the area and began “hunting” police officers. It was just after 9.45pm and he’d expended 40 rounds of .22 calibre bullets, 25 rounds of 12-gauge Buckshot and 32 rounds of 7.62mm calibre bullets in the preceding 15 minutes. Five people lay dead, two were fatally wounded and a further 17 had been wounded. In addition to the expended ammunition, Knight had lost his “suicide” bullet and another 7.62mm bullet as he had moved up the nature-strip. Knight had also lost his knife on the nature-strip. He now retained only his M14 rifle and 17 rounds of ammunition.

Following his decision to withdraw, Knight turned around and climbed onto the western platform of the Clifton Hill railway station. He ran north along the platform and then continued moving north beside the railway line. He reached a fork in the tracks at around 9.46pm and decided to follow the left fork. He spotted a police car in the northern end of Hoddle Street and fired three shots at it. The police car contained Sergeant Graham Larchin and Senior Constable Betty Roberts, who were not injured by the gunfire but who abandoned the car after Knight ceased firing.

After firing at Larchin and Roberts’s police car Knight moved into a nearby cluster of trees, sat down and smoked a cigarette. Minutes later, at 9.48pm, Police Helicopter VH-PVA – callsign “Air 495” – arrived over the Clifton Hill area and began searching for Knight with a powerful Nitesun searchlight. A minute later D24 ordered the Victoria Police’s elite Special Operations Group (SOG) to attend the scene.

Knight finished his cigarette and continued moving in a north-west direction towards Northcote. He crossed over the Merri Creek, which bordered Clifton Hill and Northcote, and took up a position at the end of a road bridge which spanned the creek. Just before 10pm he fired a shot at a passing police officer, Constable Colin Chambers, who was slightly wounded in the right side. After shooting Chambers, Knight moved back across Merri Creek into the adjoining suburb of Fitzroy North. At this point he was chased by Police Helicopter “Air 495” and he ran into a line of trees beside the railway line. He tried to avoid the searchlight for a few minutes but then, at 10.05pm, he broke cover onto the railway line, knelt down and fired three shots at the helicopter as it circled over him. The Police Helicopter, an Aerospatiale Dauphin containing Senior Constable Trevor Wilson, Senior Constable Daryl Jones, Constable Keith Stewart and Ambulance Officer Alan Scott, was hit by the first shot which pierced it right main fuel tank and forced it to land on a nearby sports field.