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Man Slays 8, Then Leaps to Own Death : 5 Wounded in Spree With Rifle at Office Tower in Melbourne

December 08, 1987|United Press International

MELBOURNE, Australia — A 22-year-old man armed with a rifle went on a shooting rampage at a federal building today, killing eight office workers and wounding five before jumping to his death through a 10th-story window, police said.

Police, who first believed the killings were the result of a botched holdup attempt, said they found a note on the gunman's body indicating the shootings were the result of an undisclosed "personal problem."

One police source said the shooting started when the gunman confronted another man in a dispute "not of the normal family domestic type." The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not elaborate, saying only that revenge was the motive.

Fired on Entering

Police said the man began firing shots as soon as he entered the ground floor of the 18-story Australia Post federal building, where people go to deposit savings, at about 4:30 p.m.

Witnesses said the gunman then took an elevator to a fifth-floor office where he confronted a male acquaintance, who ducked behind a counter and escaped injury. The gunman stalked through the building, firing at least 24 shots at random from a high-powered rifle, witnesses and police said.

Four bodies were found in a blood-splattered elevator. Other victims were found sprawled on various floors. Five women and three men were killed, police said, and five other people were wounded.

Leaped Through Window

Witnesses said a security guard on the 10th floor grabbed the gunman, who yelled, "I can't take it any more," shook loose, then lunged through a window, falling 130 feet to his death.

The gunman's name was not immediately revealed and police identified him only as a 22-year-old college student.

It was Australia's worst mass murder, following the killing of seven people by a deranged gunman in a Melbourne suburb four months ago, authorities said.

Officers arrived at the scene while the gunman was still inside the building and firing indiscriminately. Witnesses said most of the victims were believed to be employees of the government-owned telecommunication company Telecom.

A fleet of ambulances arrived on the scene and paramedics tended to the five injured, including two in critical condition.

"The scene inside," said the police spokesman, "was one of carnage. There is blood everywhere."

Police cordoned off buildings throughout the downtown business district and closed off traffic.

Melbourne, a city of 3 million on the southern coast, is Australia's second largest city.

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