Stabbing shock: Suburban fear as gang violence escalates

 

A community is living in terror as police fear an escalating gang war between two African groups could lead to further retribution attacks after a bloody melee involving 20 people led to a man's death in Brisbane's north.

The Courier-Mail has viewed CCTV footage of a brutal 12-on-1 baseball bat bashing of a man at Redbank Plains, which police believe sparked a planned retaliation attack involving three carloads of young men at Zillmere on Sunday.

Machetes and broken glass were used in the latest attack, according to shocked residents.

Girum McKonnen, 19, was killed and 10 were injured, including two critically, after the fight at O'Callaghan Park on Sunday.

Girum Mekonnen has been identified as the young man who lost his live in a gang fight at Zillmere on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Facebook
Girum Mekonnen has been identified as the young man who lost his live in a gang fight at Zillmere on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Facebook

Of the critically injured men, one remained on life support on Monday night in a critical but stable condition, and is expected to undergo more surgery on Tuesday.

The other remains in hospital in a stable condition.

A resident said the attack was a "pure massacre" and described it as a scene out of a movie.

"We heard screaming, just screaming, there were bodies everywhere," the resident said, adding they no longer wanted to live in Zillmere.

Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming said the men involved in Sunday's incident refused to speak to police and officers feared the two rival groups would take matters into their own hands.

"Retribution is not going to solve the problem," Supt Fleming said.

"We've seen that in societies around the world where it becomes tit-for-tat - it doesn't end well for anyone.

"I would say to the friends and the associates of those who know - there is no doubt people talk they will know who is responsible for this - you have an opportunity to talk to your elders, to talk to police and let us know who is responsible for this and stop more people being hurt in the community," he said.

Machetes and broken glass were used in the fight at O'Callaghan Park, Zillmere. Picture: Richard Walker
Machetes and broken glass were used in the fight at O'Callaghan Park, Zillmere. Picture: Richard Walker

Specialist police were tracking the men believed responsible for the park attack.

Supt Fleming said he was concerned Sunday's attack was in retribution for the Redbank assault, which happened outside the Woolworths at Town Square Redbank Plains on September 8.

"That is unconfirmed at this stage but certainly the indications are that that may be the case," he said.

"That was an assault … it involved a group of African people on an African man who suffered significant injuries."

The victim from the Redbank assault was still in hospital on Sunday and was not believed to be involved in the park attack.

 

He said the people involved appeared to be "outliers to the African community".

"The advice I have is that they are not supported generally by the African community," he said.

One family which witnessed the incident said the group "didn't stand a chance" and the attack appeared pre-planned and organised. The victims had tried to run away but were "cornered in".

"They were dropping and collapsing, body after body just collapsing," a woman said.

"They tried to defend themselves but they had no hope."

A relative of the woman claimed to have seen the "leader" of the attacking group in the area days earlier.

Police tape marks the scene of the bloody melee at Zillmere. Picture: Peter Wallis
Police tape marks the scene of the bloody melee at Zillmere. Picture: Peter Wallis

Another woman who spoke to The Courier-Mail said she was involved in the Zillmere incident and watched her friend "bleed out".

"Saw my boys bleed out fuming, one who is critical and another dead just because of a misunderstanding," she said.

The woman claimed her group of friends were ambushed by a gang.

She said she was involved with an African community group called "34", but said the group was not a gang, but a "family".

Mr McKonnen was collateral damage in an ongoing feud between two African groups, she said.
"He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," the woman said.

"There's nothing wrong with Girum."

According to the woman, the group were enjoying some Sunday afternoon drinks when they were ambushed and outnumbered by the group from South Brisbane.

The group were armed with knives and bats and the attack was vengeance for an unarmed brawl at Redbank several weeks ago.

Police at the scene of the incident at O’Callaghan Park. Picture: Peter Wallis
Police at the scene of the incident at O’Callaghan Park. Picture: Peter Wallis

"They weren't really after Girum. There was a fight that broke out two weeks ago at Redbank," the woman said.
"This whole time they were trying to find out who did what and because of who, and (Girum) hangs out with the guys (involved in the Redbank brawl).

"He's a soft natured person who doesn't like fighting. He's an angel dropped from heaven. It's so hard to comprehend what's happening."

Nearby residents said they heard bottles breaking and a witness - who did not want to be named - said they saw bodies "on the ground".

Another witness said she saw a group of men walking down Hanford Rd towards the park wearing black hooded jumpers and masks.

Flowers left at the Zillmere PCYC car park near the scene of the incident. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Flowers left at the Zillmere PCYC car park near the scene of the incident. Picture: Liam Kidston.

One woman, whose interview was translated by her daughter Aashma Timalsima, said she was walking her dog when she heard screaming and saw a man jumping on another man's chest.

Her mother heard one of the people in the group shout "he's no more, he's no more."

"She didn't know what it meant at first but realised the man had died," Ms Timalsima said.

"She ran home with the dog after that because another man in the park said to her that it wasn't safe to be there. They both ran away."

Originally published as Stabbing shock: Suburban fear as gang violence escalates



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