The man who tried to bring down an Islamic State-inspired terrorist with nothing more than a shopping trolley says he is “no hero”.
Dubbed “trolley man” for his efforts, Michael Rogers has become a cult figure in the city in the past 36 hours.
The acclaim comes after he was seen on video of Friday’s Bourke Street terrorist attack using a shopping trolley to try to prevent Hassan Khalif Shire Ali from continuing his deadly rampage.
Shire Ali, a 30-year-old Somali-born man who moved to Melbourne in the 1990s, lit his ute on fire near one of Melbourne’s busiest thoroughfares on Friday afternoon, before stabbing three passers-by.
One of his victims, the 74-year-old co-owner of the iconic Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, Sisto Malaspina, died at the scene.
— Alexandra Keefe (@alexkeefe9) November 10, 2018
Shire Ali died in hospital after being shot by a rookie police constable who was just three months out of the academy. While it took a bullet to finally stop Shire Ali, Mr Rogers had already bravely attempted it by ramming Shire Ali with a trolley.
But he has since played down his contribution.
“I threw the trolley straight at him, and I got him. I didn’t quite get him down, though. I’m no hero,” he told Channel 7.
“I have seen the trolley to the side, so I’ve picked it up and I ran and threw the trolley straight at him.
“[I] got him but didn’t get him down. And I did that motion quite a number of times, but it just was not getting him down.”
Mr Rogers’s efforts were recognised by the chief commissioner of Victoria Police.
“People act in the spur of the moment in those sort of things, and that’s what he’s done,” Graham Ashton said.
“He’s attempted to support the police there, and do what he could.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Mr Rogers, who is believed to be homeless and to have had his phone destroyed while trying to assist police.
“He’s a hero in our eyes and he can do what he feels best with any funds he receives,” the campaign’s page said.
“He risked his own life that day for nothing in return and you can’t put a price on that.”
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville paid tribute to the two junior police officers who were confronted by Shire Ali.
“They were backed up pretty quickly … but those two police officers showed incredible courage, bravery,” she said.
“I have met many new recruits and graduates, and they are still learning, and what they showed [on Friday] is that they have the right training, the right state of mind and they executed that to protect Victorians very quickly and as appropriate.
“I have a huge admiration for both of them.
“It would have been a pretty confronting situation … my thoughts and prayers are with them as well and their families as they deal with this.”
Inspired by Islamic State
Shire Ali had his passport cancelled in 2015 after ASIO assessed he was planning to travel to Syria.
Police confirmed on Saturday that he had been “radicalised” and “inspired” by Islamic State, and the group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
It is also understood Shire Ali had recently moved from his family’s Werribee home because of problems with substance abuse. Toxicology results are expected in the next few days.
A sheikh from the Werribee mosque his family attended said Shire Ali was “not mentally fit”.
“The family told me three days ago … that [he thought] he was being chased by people with spears,” Sheikh Isse Musse, from the Virgin Mary mosque, told the ABC.
He said police raided the family home in the early hours of Saturday morning, and added that the family was distraught.
“This is the moment to grieve, and they have not been allowed to do that.”
Sharmake Farah from the Somali Community of Victoria said the entire African-Australian community was “shocked and deeply saddened” by what happened.
“We condemn it with the strongest terms possible,” he said.
“We stand with the victims of this incident and send our deepest and sincere condolence to their family and friends.”
He said the community was very proud of the way police handled the situation, calling the force “one of the finest in the world”.