ELEANOR HALL: In an unusually frank press conference, Victoria's
chief commissioner of police revealed that Abdul Numan Haider, the Muslim
teenager that police shot dead in Melbourne last night, came to the attention of
the force three months ago.
Appearing with the head of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Ken Lay said the man had recently been behaving suspiciously in shopping centres and that authorities had suspended his passport.
Despite admitting that they were concerned about a back lash over the police shooting, both police chiefs called on Australians to stay calm.
In Melbourne, Samantha Donovan reports.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The chief commissioner of Victoria Police, Ken Lay, says 18-year-old Abdul Numan Haider had been asked by police to meet them at the police station in Melbourne's south-east at about 8 o'clock last night.
He says officers became aware of the man about three months ago, and his passport had been cancelled on security grounds.
KEN LAY: What we saw did cause us some concerns, which resulted in us taking some interest in him.
It's true to say late last week we learned of some behaviours that were causing us significant concern and our interest was greatly heightened.
Some of our people came across the deceased in public locations and had conversations with him, and again, those conversations helped build the total intelligence picture.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Chief commissioner Lay says the dead man hadn't felt comfortable meeting officers inside the police station, and they'd agreed to speak to him in the car park.
He says there was little conversation before the man stabbed the two officers.
The injured AFP officer had surgery last night and the Victoria Police officer will be operated on later today.
Both are in a stable condition but have serious injuries.
Andrew Colvin is the acting commissioner of the Australian Federal Police.
ANDREW COLVIN: Clearly, I think it's fortunate this morning that we're talking about one death and two injuries, not three deaths.
And police in this country are well trained to deal with the situations that they were confronted with last night, but we should be really clear as well: from a police officer perspective, our worst case scenario is an unprovoked attack where someone at close quarters with a knife.
There's not a great deal that we can do and I think the officers, the fact that they're alive today is testament to the training and the way that they dealt with that.
Will we reveal? Of course we will. Of course we will. And we'll look to see. Will it concern police around this country and any other members in uniform around this country? Yes it will.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Chef commissioner Lay says the homicide squad, professional standards, Victoria's anti-corruption body IBAC and the coroner will investigate the fatal shooting.
KEN LAY: What it is clear to me is that a man attended at the scene with a knife, and his actions may tell a story of what his intentions were.
It's sobering indeed to consider that both these police officers were simply doing their job to keep our community safe.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The Prime Minister Tony Abbott is on his way to New York for the UN Security Council meeting.
During a stopover in Hawaii he said he'd been briefed on what he described as a nasty incident.
TONY ABBOTT: Obviously this indicates that there are people in our community who are capable of very extreme acts.
It also indicates that the police will be constantly vigilant to protect us against people who would do us harm.
I've spoken to the wives of both of the officers concerned to assure them of the Government's support and of the Government's respect for the professionalism with which the police seem to have acted here.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: AFP acting commissioner Colvin says it's not clear if the dead man had made threats against the Prime Minister.
ANDREW COLVIN: This is in early stages of an investigation. We need to understand exactly what threats, if threats had been made.
What I will say is, and what I can be very confident on, is that there were no specific threats made.
Police and security agencies in this country do not have information of any specific threats and we didn't have information of a specific threat on this occasion.
It was factors, as we've already talked about, in terms of activity at shopping centres, more about rhetoric and things that he had been heard to say.
I don't want to be any more specific than that at the moment because we're at the start of this investigation, we're not at the end of it.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The general manager of the National Council of Imams, Samir Bennegadi, says Abdul Numan Haider wasn't known to them.
He told reporters in Sydney the entire Australian community will have to work harder to fight extremism and exclusion.
SAMIR BENNEGADI: It's very horrifying to see that. I mean you even go into the psychology of why an 18-year-old would even go to a police station carrying some weapon with him is really very upsetting.
And the question is why would an 18-year-old born and raised in Australia get to that extent?
And yet we still want to understand the facts of what happened, the facts haven't been coming through yet, so we would like to wait up until we are well informed in terms of a report or an incident that is reported to us by the police of which then we can make more of an informed type of an opinion.
We're trying to find out who he is to try to see the system or the environment that he was living in to better understand why someone like him might resort to an act in the way that it was described to us.
So we are approaching this issue as a family. We want to understand the situation, the predicament on how better to address this on, not only just as a local level, but also as a global level.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay is urging the community to stay calm.
He says police won't tolerate racism.
KEN LAY: We will apply the law when we see this occurring.
It is important to remember that extremist behaviour has nothing whatsoever to do with faith. It relates to people who would do our community harm.
ELEANOR HALL: That report from Samantha Donovan, that's the chief commissioner of Victorian Police, Ken Lay.