Three women aged between 60 and 80 have sustained gunshot wounds after two New South Wales police officers fired at a man who was allegedly armed with a knife in a crowded mall.
The actions of the two officers will be subject to a critical incident review after the three women and the man thought to be wielding the knife were shot.
A NSW police assistant commissioner, Denis Clifford, said on Monday it was “alarming” the three women had sustained injuries but said the two police officers who discharged their firearms had reacted to a fast-developing situation.
“Police had to make a very critical decision on the actions they took,” Clifford told reporters at the scene.
Clifford said the drama unfolded within seconds and an investigation would examine whether a Taser could have been used.
The shooting took place just before midday on Thursday at the Hornsby organic food markets in Florence street, outside the Hornsby Westfield shopping centre, after reports of a man armed with a knife.
A statement from NSW police said four people had been injured and taken to hospital. Clifford said the three women and the man who allegedly wielded the knife were all in a stable condition.
Footage posted by the photographer David Henry on Twitter shows several NSW police officers surrounding a person lying on the ground. The officers appear to have their weapons drawn.
Henry posted that one shot had been fired and three people were injured.
According to the Nine Network, a man had been “ranting” in the outdoor area. Police approached and, soon after, two officers “discharged” their firearms.
The man was shot in the stomach and arm, Nine said, and three female bystanders suffered leg injuries.
Magdy Abdalla, from the Java Lava Cafe on Florence Street, told Australian Associated Press he had heard gunshots and immediately fell to the floor. “I told all of the customers just stay on the floor,” he said. “I was scared. I just heard the shooting.
“I saw some people running and I just had a look. I found three older ladies on the floor bleeding, one injured in the leg, one in the arm and the other one maybe in the back.”
Abdalla also reported seeing a young, skinny man, aged in his early 20s, lying on the ground. “Police officers came in one minute,” he said.
Helen Wong, from the nearby Pho Ngon restaurant, said she had seen bodies on the ground and police had cordoned off the area.
Australian Associated Press contributed to this report