Ross Tomlinson watched the New Lynn terrorist take his last breath with a dozen bullets in his chest and desperately ran to the supermarket aisles to grab scissors and nappies to treat the wounded.
The ex-paramedic of 10 years had seconds earlier screamed abuse at the Isis-inspired attacker, Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, to provoke him and divert his attention from other shoppers.
He’d grabbed a metal bollard from the shelves to ward off Samsudeen who had been manically “slashing at the air” yelling Allah Akbar and “would have stabbed me or killed me, if the police arrived any later”.
Undercover police, who had been tailing him and heard the commotion from the supermarket entrance, arrived seconds later.
“He ran at them with the knife raised. He was going to kill them,” Tomlinson said of the Friday afternoon attack at Countdown LynnMall.
“They shot around nine to 12 shots. He was two feet away from the police when they fired and around six to 10 feet away from me just before they entered the scene.
“He died quickly, gasping for breath, he passed away within 60 seconds of hitting the ground. All rounds seem to hit him in the central chest and abdomen. No first aid treatment would have helped him.”
Now having narrowly escaped being the Isis-inspired terrorist’s eighth stabbing victim, Tomlinson’s thoughts went to the horrifically injured shoppers he’d just frantically passed.
“I grabbed scissors to cut the clothes off the patients, so I could assess their injuries, and nappies to stem the bleeding, and ran to help the two women he stabbed,” the 33-year-old said.
“I called the ambulance communication center directly at 2.41pm and updated the clinical desk of the patient conditions, both status 1 and critical, requesting advanced life support units and advising them the offender was down and it was safe to enter the scene.”
What Tomlinson encountered were two victims lying near each other who he believes were among the three critically injured – who are still in a stable but critical condition in Auckland City Hospital tonight.
In Police Commissioner Andrew Coster’s press conference yesterday he paid tribute to a bystander on the scene with medical experience who assisted in the emergency treatment of the wounded.
“The younger of the two patients had severe neck/throat, abdomen and shoulder wounds, bleeding heavily,” Tomlinson said.
“The police had retrieved their medical kits from the squad car and had some medicine which is called quick clot. This causes the blood to clot in a wound and stop the bleeding. I used this on the gaping neck wound, then padded the wound with a nappy.
“A brave bystander was kneeling holding the nappy applying pressure to the wound and speaking reassuring words to her. He was very impressive and calm. He had his young children in the car but stayed and showed kindness and courage.”
Tomlinson said the woman – who was likely the victim identified by police as being in her 20s – had a significant gut wound but was “very brave and was asking how the other lady was”.
Four women were among the victims, aged 29, 43, 60 and 66, and three men, aged 53, 57 and 77.
The Sri Lankan-born 34-year-old identified as the attacker, Samsudeen, had been known to New Zealand national security since 2016 for posting extremist material online, had spent time in custody, and was under 24/7 surveillance.
Tomlinson also rushed to treat an older woman he uncovered was on blood thinning medication. He said she was bleeding heavily and it was incredible she survived.
“She had serious stab wounds to her neck/base of her skull, chest and thoracic back area,” he said.
“She was terrified and short of breath – possibly with a punctured lung. The police and I dressed the wounds as best we could. She also asked about the condition of the other lady. They were about four feet from each other lying on the ground. There was also a bystander holding her hand and comforting her too.”
When the St John paramedics arrived they administered the patients a medicine called TXA used to stop further bleeding in severe trauma.
Tomlinson had nothing but praise for the police strategic tactical team officers who fired the fatal shots at the terrorist and assisted him in treating the two women.
“The police and two bystanders which helped me with the first aid were amazing.
“They were exposed to horrific trauma themselves and still stayed to help those in need. Without any medical training, followed my direction on how to help and did so in such a brave and selfless way. The police were outstanding, calm and professional.”
Reflecting on the ordeal today, Tomlinson said that despite his past training in emergency situations the 2.30pm attack was a “terrifying experience”.
The Titirangi resident had worked as a St John paramedic in West Auckland from 2007-2017.
“You keep asking yourself could I have done more?” Tomlinson said.
“Should I have gone and tackled him straight away, because then he wouldn’t have managed to stab the old lady? But also the thought in the back of your head you want to get home to your wife and baby.”
Tomlinson's encounter with the terrorist, in his own words
“It started with yelling and screaming. I thought kids were mucking around, then a young man ran past me, terrified, saying ‘run, he’s got a knife & is stabbing people’.
“I ran toward the screams, to help. There was a lady laid on the ground with a severe stomach wound and shoulder laceration. Next to her was an elderly lady, cowering behind a shopping trolley and others running for the exit.
“The man with a knife was pacing around the area, in and out of the aisles at the rear of the store.
“I passed the victim laying on the floor and [the] terrorist. I was yelling at him to drop the knife, he paid no attention other than to pace towards me, then pace back in the opposite direction. He seemed manic, slashing at the air and fast pacing towards anyone close.
“I ran to the bottom of the store and grabbed a metal bollard to use against him. He was yelling ‘Allah akbar’. I move towards him shouting to drop the knife, he ignored this. Another man tried to tackle him but was thrown to the ground and narrowly missed being stabbed, he (the terrorist) was slashing at the air and loudly saying ‘Allah Akbar’.
“To get his attention, I said ‘**** your God’. This got his attention and he started moving toward me. I’m not proud of that statement and is not something I believe, but knew it would anger him and draw his attention towards me.
“At this point another chap came up behind me also yelling to drop the ‘******* knife’ and told me to hit him with the metal pole, I couldn’t safely get close enough, he was slashing at the air, the guy took the pole and moved to the back of the store.
“The terrorist was moving towards me. I kept yelling to drop the knife. As he was moving towards me, plain clothed armed police entered from behind me. As they passed me and stood in front of me, they stated ‘armed police’, yelled at the chap with the pole to move from the line of fire, yelling ‘move back – armed police’ and told him [the terrorist] to drop the knife.
“He ran at them with the knife raised. He was going to kill them. They shot around nine to 12 shots. He was 2-feet away from the police when they fired and around six to 10 feet away from me just before they entered the scene. He would have stabbed me or killed me, if the police arrived any later. The police saved me from serious injury or being killed.
“The police talked about rendering him first aid post the shooting. I’m an ex paramedic of 10-years service. I told them to leave him, triage him out and help the others. He died quickly, gasping for breath, he passed away within 60-seconds of hitting the ground. All rounds seem to hit him in the central chest and abdomen. No first aid treatment would have helped him.
“The second paramedic crew, assessed the terrorist. They applied the ECG monitor and his ECG rhythm was asystolic – or flat lined. The female paramedic listened to his heart sounds and lungs, checked his pupils. All signs and examination showed he was deceased. He had urinated on himself.
“The whole event would have been much worse if the offender has not been a marked/monitored target. Normal police from the 111 calls arrived about four minutes after the offender was down.”
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