The girlfriend of the driver accused of Friday’s deadly rampage through Melbourne’s CBD says he told her he would run over pedestrians if police did not stop pursuing him.
Akiir Muo said she was taken hostage for about four hours on Friday morning by 26-year-old Dimitrious “Jimmy” Gargasoulas, shortly before he sped through Melbourne’s pedestrian precinct, killing four people and injuring at least 30.
“He was driving really erratically… he kept saying it was the end of the world and how he planned to run over people in the city because the police were following us,” Ms Muo told the Herald Sun.
She told the ABC Gargasoulas was yelling at police that he would surrender if they stopped following him.
“[He said] ‘If they leave me alone I will stop and turn myself in’, but they kept on following him which made him even more angrier,” Ms Muo, 25, said.
“I reckon he would have maybe stopped, that’s what he, I’m going by his words, that’s what he was telling me.”
The mother of two, who had been intermittently dating Gargasoulas for about five months, said that from about 7am on Friday he drove her to various places including Windsor and South Melbourne before ending up on the Bolte Bridge, where police surrounded the car.
“I swear to God I will go to the city and I will run, you know, people over, I will run them over if they are going to come catch me,” she claimed he said.
Ms Muo said he then opened the door to push her out, and she urged him to surrender before fleeing.
“I was begging him to stop but he just wouldn’t,” Ms Muo said.
Police then took Ms Muo away and interviewed her for more than 10 hours.
“When I found out he actually killed people I just went into shock. I started crying and thought, ‘Jimmy what have you done’,” she told the Herald Sun.
The driver’s mother, Emily Gargasoulas, also said she ”felt sick in the stomach” once she found out what her son had done.
“I’m ashamed to be his mother,” she told the Herald Sun. “I’m so sorry to the families he’s hurt.”
Ms Gargasoulas told Channel Seven she witnessed the bloody fight between James and his younger brother Angelo on Friday morning, which erupted over Angelo’s sexuality, and that for all she cared Jimmy ”could die in hell”.
Gargasoulas’s father Chris, who is on his way to Melbourne from his home in Coober Pedy, said he would ‘scratch his son off his books’.
“He’s not the Jimmy I used to know,” Chris Gargasoulas told Channel Seven, adding “people with a brain never do these sort of things”.
A man purporting to be a friend of Gargasoulas also claimed the 26-year-old driver was a father of three young children, and had another on the way with a different ex-partner.
Gargasoulas, who was apprehended when police shot him in the arm after his rampage, was under police guard in hospital on Saturday.
Homicide squad detectives head a major inquiry into the tragedy.
Asked numerous times on Saturday about the decisions made by police during the pursuit, Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said he was confident that police acted in the interests of community safety.
“It will be natural that people will want to speculate and make calls,” he said.
“But my police were on the spot; my police were the ones that had to make the decisions – life and death decisions in moments and seconds.
“And everyone of those decisions, from my perspective, was made to try to prevent the loss of human life.”
But the no-pursuit policy remains unpopular among members of the police force.
“The no-pursuit policy is a disgrace, it’s cowardly,” one veteran police officer told the ABC.
If it was my family that had been impacted I would be very, very angry. As an organisation we have let Victorians down.”
The State Coroner, Judge Sara Hinchey, immediately began a coronial investigation into the tragedy.
Premier Daniel Andrews convened a special cabinet sub-committee meeting on Sunday to discuss the tragedy, and is expected to discuss why the driver was last week freed on bail, against the wishes of police.
On January 14 Gargasoulas was charged over family violence-related offences but was bailed, and was due in court on the day of the rampage.
“Victorians are angry today – and I’m angry too,” said Mr Andrews.
“We want answers, and all of us can be confident that our government will honour the memory of those who died here with whatever change, with whatever resources, with whatever reform is required.”
Opposition leader Matthew Guy said the bail system in the state was broken. “It needs to be fundamentally reformed,” he said.