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Vic: Police shoot teenager dead in skate park standoff

By Jamie Duncan
12 Dec 2008 1:18 AM

MELBOURNE, Dec 12 AAP - A teenager who allegedly confronted four police with two knives has been shot dead following a standoff in a skate park in Melbourne's inner north.

Police said they fired warning shots and used two hits with capsicum spray, but officers shot and fatally wounded the man as he continued to threaten and approach them.

Police were called to the scene about 9.30pm (AEDT) on Thursday following calls from a number of witnesses reporting a young male behaving irrationally and violently at the All Nations Park between Separation and Dennis streets, Northcote, police Assistant Commissioner Tim Cartwright said.

The shooting occurred a short time later about 200 metres from the Northcote police station.

The dead male had earlier stolen knives from a department store at the nearby Northcote Plaza shopping centre, Mr Cartwright said. Police did not give his age but said he was a teenager.

"He was irrational. He was yelling and screaming and, as far as we can tell, armed with two knives at that stage," he told reporters at the scene.

"The details are still sketchy but from what I know they have approached him. He was quite irrational. He was aggressive.

"They have in fact needed to foam him twice, so that's deploy OC foam (capsicum spray) on two separate occasions, apparently without effect.

"The young fellow has moved off to a skate park which is a short distance away ... and police have followed him.

"He's still armed with the knives, still very aggressive, still threatening.

"At some stage the young bloke has then approached the police officers.

"They have backed off and fired shots to no effect.

"He has continued to approach, at which stage three of the four members have fired on the young man, fatally wounding him."

Four officers, a leading senior constable and senior constable from Northcote, both men, and two female constables from Preston, attended.

All but one of the constables fired on the dead male.

The victim died where he fell soon after.

Distressed relatives were on the scene minutes later.

One young man sat propped against a tree, sobbing, as police took charge of the scene.

"It's a tragedy. It's a dreadful event. We shouldn't lose members of the community this way," Mr Cartwright said.

"We train our police members, they foamed him, they talked to him. They have done what they can. It's a dreadful event."

Details of the male's identity have not yet been released.

George Markopoulos was outside his house opposite the All Nations Park and heard the drama unfold from his home nearby.

"I heard five or six shots. It all took a couple of seconds," he told AAP.

"They were in a couple of seconds."

"I didn't take it into that much consideration. I thought they were fireworks. They didn't sound like gunshots."

He said he heard just a couple of screams immediately following the shooting.

A relative of an employee at the K-Mart store in the shopping centre said a male entered the store and demanded knives in an agitated and aggressive manner shortly before the shooting.

He slashed boxes as he left armed with the knives, the man told reporters.

Mr Cartwright said homicide detectives would investigate the shooting on behalf of the Victorian coroner, with ethical standards police overseeing.

The police involved in the shooting have been offered counselling.