Bourke Street ‘trolley man’ fundraiser raises $100,000 as police issue warning

Updated November 13, 2018 00:54:49

An online fundraiser has raised more than $100,000 for a man who confronted the Bourke Street terrorist with a shopping trolley during Friday’s deadly attack.

Key points:

  • “Trolley man” Michael Rogers is believed to be homeless
  • The public has been warned to stand back when police deal with dangerous situations
  • A state funeral has been offered for slain restaurateur Sisto Malaspina

Michael Rogers drew widespread praise for pushing the trolley repeatedly at Hassan Khalif Shire Ali as the 30-year-old man attempted to stab police.

Shire Ali stabbed three men — fatally wounding Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar co-owner Sisto Malaspina — before he was shot in the chest by police and later died in hospital.

Tasmanian man Rod Patterson, who was stabbed in the head by Shire Ali, survived the attack and released a statement from the Alfred Hospital over the weekend where he said he was receiving “fantastic care”.

The third man stabbed — a security guard employed by SECUREcorp — was “recovering well”, according to a statement released by his employer.

“The officer was hurt in the line of duty and has received medical care as well as support for himself and his family through our Employee Assistance Program,” the statement said.

“He is recovering well and has requested that his personal details are not released and we respect his wishes.”

Mr Rogers, who is believed to be homeless, said on the weekend he was “no hero” and was simply trying to help when he thrust the trolley at Shire Ali.

He told Monday’s The Age newspaper he had served a five-year jail term for aggravated burglary in the past and had a long history of drug use.

He said the decision to intervene was made on the “spur of the moment,” the newspaper reported.

‘It could have been a different outcome’

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told ABC Radio Melbourne he understood that Mr Rogers had intervened “instinctively”, but warned that in general the public should stand back when police are responding to a situation.

“If there are police present, people should let the police do their job,” Mr Ashton said.

“I haven’t been at all critical of this fella on the weekend … because people act instinctively, and he’s acted instinctively, looking to support the police, deal with that situation and I’m not critical of him on that basis.

“But certainly people need to be cautious when trying to do that sort of thing.

“If the trolley had hit one of the police officers and he’d fallen over and [Shire Ali] was on top of him, it could have been a different outcome.”

The GoFundMe page was set up by Melbourne woman Donna Stolzenberg, who described Mr Rogers as an “absolutely incredible human” who was “humble” and had no idea about the fundraiser.

“We’ve since learned that our hero ‘Trolleyman’ [is] homeless and that his phone was destroyed in the incident,” Ms Stolzenberg said on the page.

Donations to be managed by trust fund

Ms Stolzenberg — who is the managing director of not-for-profit organisation National Homeless Collective — said Mr Rogers would be supported by an accountant to use the funds to rebuild his life and recover from the trauma of the incident.

“We do need to make sure that he is able to make some choices around how he uses the money, but we’ve also got to make sure that we keep him safe and he’s not at risk of the money falling into the wrong hands,” Ms Stolzenberg told the ABC.

“I hope that Michael is able to use the money to end up living the way that he would like to, whether that’s to move away somewhere quieter, whether that’s to stay where he is.”

Ms Stolzenberg said she also hoped the response to Mr Rogers’ actions would “change the narrative” around homelessness.

“Stop seeing homeless people as useless, and start understanding that a person might not have a home but they still are a human being and still will jump up and come to the aid of two police officers if the situation calls for it,” she said.

“He is usually seen as someone who’s just homeless and useless and that’s just not the case.

“Everyone who’s donated has seen Michael as a hero, and he absolutely is, and I want that to continue.”

However, Ms Stolzenberg agreed with Mr Ashton, and said the support for Mr Rogers’ actions should not be construed as an endorsement of the public becoming involved in police incidents.

“Someone asked me, ‘Do we need more people like Michael?’ and my reply was, ‘No, we need less situations like the Bourke Street rampage’,” she said.

“I certainly wouldn’t encourage people to jump in, I think police should be left to do their job, however in this situation it was just a ‘spur of the moment’ thing and he just wanted to help.”

‘We want to be defiant’

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp told ABC Radio Melbourne she felt “devastated” by the attack, and was one of the many Melburnians who knew Mr Malaspina.

“I still get very emotional about it, but I also know that Melburnians are very resilient,” Cr Capp said.

“We have ambitions for our city to be a welcoming city … we want to be defiant in the face of what these acts are really about: dividing us.

“They’re about making us cower in the face of fear and the feeling definitely was that that’s not going to happen in Melbourne.”

Cr Capp said construction work would begin tonight to install permanent bollards near Flinders Street Station, as part of a plan announced last year to make the CBD safer for pedestrians.

“There’ll be more than 50 bollards to go in [at Flinders Street station] over the next four weeks,” she said.

“Really what we’re doing is identifying those high-pedestrian traffic zones and we’re doing what we can to make those zones in particular safer, whilst trying to be a welcoming city and a city where pedestrian flows can move relatively freely but people can feel safer.”

The Lord Mayor said Friday’s terror attack had not changed the priorities of the rollout plan, which will move to Princes Bridge over the Yarra River in early 2019.

Construction has already begun for 36 permanent bollards in the Bourke Street Mall.

Topics: terrorism, police, law-crime-and-justice, states-and-territories, melbourne-3000

First posted November 12, 2018 08:37:24

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