UPDATE: POLICE say they had “no choice” but to shoot dead a Melbourne teenage terror suspect after he stabbed two officers from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team.
The 18-year-old Narre Warren man, under surveillance for making threats against Prime Minister Tony Abbott, met a Victorian police officer and an AFP agent outside Endeavour Hills police station in Melbourne’s southeast about 7.45pm.
The Muslim man greeted the two officers with a handshake before attacking them, police say.
Mr Cornelius said the Victorian officer fired a single shot that killed the man.
Police had arranged to meet the man, who had been seen with an Islamic State flag at the Dandenong shopping centre, because of concerns about his behaviour.
Senior intelligence sources confirmed that the terror suspect had been among a number of people whose passports were recently cancelled.
The injured officers are in hospital in a stable condition.
“Our members had no inkling that this individual posed a threat to them,” Mr Cornelius said.
“It’s absolutely clear to us that our members really had no choice other than to act in the way in which they did.”
A large crime scene remains in place at the police station as detectives continue to investigate this morning.
Police and SES members have erected a tarp and makeshift wire fence around a silver sedan, believed to be the man’s car.
They are due to remove his body this morning.
Detectives also removed what is believed to be evidence in paper bags from the scene.
The dead man had acted on his own, Mr Cornelius said.
“The individual who has died was invited and did come of his own free will to the police station,’’ he said.
“Obviously both members are in shock but we are doing everything when can to provide them with support and assistance in what is for any police officer an incredibly difficult and challenging time.”
Australian Federal Police Commander Bruce Giles said the man was invited to discuss a “routine matter”.
The matter was “something that needed to be spoken about” with the individual, he said.
Shortly before 11pm the bomb squad deployed a bomb-disposal robot and an explosives expert in a protective “detonation suit” to explore the police station, as forensic police combed the area.
A Monash Health spokesman confirmed that one of the injured officers was taken to Dandenong Hospital in a stable condition, with non-life-threatening injuries. He is expected to be discharged today.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana visited Dandenong Hospital last night.
Police said the officer was recovering well but in shock.
The other injured officer was taken to The Alfred hospital in a stable condition.
Police officers surrounded the area and diverted traffic from Heatherton Rd in both directions.
Onlookers were pushed further back as the taped-off area was extended.
A young boy who lives nearby said he had heard a single shot coming from the area of the police station.
Service station attendant Shafi Miya, who was working across the road when the incident unfolded, said he heard a loud shot.
Police cars and an ambulance descended on the scene shortly afterwards, he said.
He said the incident had been “pretty scary”.
It was not known what the threat against Mr Abbott may have involved or whether he had been involved in planning some kind of attack.
Mr Cornelius said it was “important that the community understands this is not an exercise in police seeking to single out particular individuals in the community”.
“Where we see individuals in the community behaving in a way which causes a concern to public safety, we have to reach out to those individuals and do what we can to understand what it is that they might be planning to do and put ourselves in a position to deal with those individuals in a way which is safe and in a way which promotes community safety,” he said.
The Prime Minister was last night on a plane from Canberra to New York to attend United Nations meetings dealing with the rising threat of IS.
Premier Denis Napthine left a question-and-answer forum at Parliament House early last night as the drama unfolded.
Endeavour Hills is in the seat of federal MP Anthony Byrne, deputy chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
The area was also the scene of an AFP raid on people who were linked to the Al Furqan centre, a religious instruction school, in 2012.
“My main concern is for the welfare of the officers involved,” Mr Byrne said.
The homicide squad will investigate on behalf of the State Coroner, with the police Professional Standard Commands to oversee the investigation.
SUBURB WAKES IN FRIGHT
IT could have been any suburb of Melbourne on any night of the week.
Dark streets, a busy road, a police station, a childcare centre nearby.
But last night Endeavour Hills became unique in a way no suburb would ever want.
It was the night our terror fears became manifest.
Authorities say an 18-year-old terror suspect was met by a federal agent and a Victorian police officer who were investigating him.
And then it all went horribly wrong.
The teenager attacked the officers of the law, viciously stabbing them.
When the shot in response pierced the warm September night it echoed across the suburb.
The service station attendant heard a loud “scary” bang before police cars and an ambulance rushed the area.
But the service station’s bright lights had obscured his view of the unfolding drama.
A young boy also heard a single shot but no shouting.
Next, the officers’ colleagues arrived on the scene with blue lights flashing.
The sirens. The cordoning off. Then came the curious locals.
The chequered police tape encircling the crime scene was pushed further back, along with a ballooning crowd of onlookers. Detectives swarmed in, setting up camp in the service station directly opposite the crime scene.
While traffic thundered past the busy southeast Melbourne thoroughfare, a major police blockade made sure Heatherton Rd sat eerily still.
Two hours and twenty minutes after the stabbings and the shooting the Bomb Squad deployed a robot in the direction of the police station.
By 11pm an explosives expert, suited up and looking like an extra from The Hurt Locker, cautiously investigated the station. With onlookers unable to see through the darkness, and police keeping tight-lipped, many could only speculate about what was still unfolding around them.
“I’ve got no idea what’s going on,” said one resident, who added that, coincidentally, there had been another police operation near the police station on Sunday.
“It’s really strange to see the whole street blocked off.”
The quiet and unassuming community of Endeavour Hills, lying 31km south east of the CBD, will wake this morning to find itself at the epicentre of Australia’s dramatic confrontation with Islamic extremism.
A hilly and leafy residential suburb, a world away from IS and its extremists, the area is blessed with parks, gardens and a variety of wildlife.
The focal point of the community is Endeavour Hills shopping centre — which has 86 retail stores and three large supermarkets.
Last week the nation watched on as terror raids were executed in Queensland and NSW. Melburnians may have been hoping we were immune from terror threats, and from the dangerous actions of angry young men.
It could have been any suburb on any night. But it was not. It was a typical Melbourne suburb full of young families with hopes for the future.
They will wonder if it could have been much worse — whether perhaps a bigger tragedy was averted.
They may also wonder how many more normal nights before another horrible one.
- with Jessica Marszalek, David Hurley, Carmen Scaduto and AAP