A young woman is in a critical condition after being stabbed at the Australian National University campus in Canberra on Monday afternoon.
Two women, both aged 20, were stabbed about 2.45pm on Monday, while a third man was assaulted and received minor injuries. The two women were taken to hospital, one in a critical condition and the other in a stable condition.
Police arrested a 24-year-old man who was “not believed to be a student of the university” and he remains in police custody. Charges have not yet been laid and police would not confirm details about the man’s identity.
They say they have not yet identified a specific motive for the alleged attack.
“A 24-year-old male, who is not believed to be a student of the university, is in police custody,” police said. “He has not been charged at this time. No other people are being sought by police.”
One witness, speaking anonymously, told the Guardian she saw between 10 and 15 police sprinting across Fellows Oval on the ANU campus, before pinning a man against a hill and handcuffing him.
She later saw a wound in one victim’s back, which was “fairly visible”.
“They carted her off in a stretcher. But the police had this guy pinned down for a pretty long time and that’s all we could really see for a while,” she said.
“I went back upstairs and by then they had moved the guy … and I think they were checking his vitals for a pretty extended period of time, at least 20 to 25 minutes. He was cuffed behind his back and bleeding from at least one hand, from what I could see.”
She said others at the scene remained fairly calm and were complying with police directions to move away from the area.
“Business really stopped. Everyone was just watching from whatever vantage point they had. And the police, just so many police.”
The federal MP for Canberra, Alicia Payne, said she was “thinking of all ANU staff and students”.
“Hope everyone is OK,” she posted on social media.
Students and staff were urged by the university to stay away from Fellows Oval near the Chifley Library earlier on Monday, though police said there was no direct threat to the community.
“Police are at the scene and have the situation under control, with an individual in custody,” ANU said.
On Friday evening, the vice-chancellor, Prof Brian Schmidt, emailed staff and students with an update on the incident.