OPINION: This should never have happened – the initial response of a policeman investigating the Bourke Street horror.
The man, 26-year-old James "Jimmy" Gargasoulas, arrested after he used a stolen car to allegedly kill and maim as many people as possible in the Melbourne CBD, was on multiple bail and was considered dangerous and erratic.
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said: "We know a fair bit about his background," adding the man had a history of family violence.
He had been the subject of a manhunt after he stabbed his brother in the chest and head in a Windsor home about 2am, Friday.
The victim was so badly injured the homicide squad was notified, as he was not expected to live.
Police now believe the alleged offender mistakenly concluded he had killed his brother and was about to be arrested for murder.
Mr Ashton said police charged the man at the weekend with another offence (but he was not kept in custody).
Which means that when the facts become public of this man's bizarre and violent behaviour in the weeks and months before he became an alleged killer, there will be understandable outrage.
The 2012 murder of Jill Meagher in Brunswick by serial offender Adrian Bayley, who should have been in custody, resulted in a massive restructure of the parole system.
The attack on pedestrians by an allegedly known violent, charged offender with a history of drugs abuse and mental health problems will lead to calls for the bail structure to be scrutinised in the same way.
There will be outrage and calls for major reforms. And this time the law makers will be forced to listen.
There will also be scrutiny of police pursuit policies with some in chasing the alleged offender, wanting to ram his car before he entered the CBD.
When police identified him as the driver of a stolen car, he was pursued, but a decision was made not to chase him through the CBD because of the risk to the public. He was monitored from the air by the police helicopter, with a plan to intercept him in a safe spot.
"The pursuit had to be terminated," Mr Ashton said. He said police were looking "to find another opportunity to intercept".
When to back off and when to intercept has become such a grey area for police. The trouble is many offenders now speed off, believing the more recklessly they drive the less likely they are to be chased.
To speed through the city chasing a dangerous, erratic driver can increase the risk. No-one, perhaps not even the driver, knew until the last second, he would turn into the Mall determined, it seems, to kill.
In a remarkably similar case more than ten years ago, the Special Operations Group, intercepted a drug-affected armed murder suspect in South Melbourne.
He was shot dead and subsequently the police involved were criticised by the coroner, with the details sent to the Director of Pubic Prosecutions to see if they should be charged with criminal offences.
The then head of the SOG John Noonan was outraged saying, "They [the four police who fired shots] should have been given medals, not criticism."
A simple check of the alleged offender's Facebook page shows a violent man with a hatred for police posting such rants as: "The next time you hear of a police officer being killed 'in the line of duty', take a moment to consider the very real possibility that maybe in that case, the 'law enforcer' was the bad guy and the 'cop killer' was the good guy. As it happens, that has been the case more often than not throughout human history."
The alleged suspect, clearly spinning out, carried out a series of burnouts outside Flinders Street Station before driving up Swanston Street, appeared to try to head up Little Collins Street before driving along the Bourke Street Mall to hit pedestrians. He continued along the footpath hitting more victims, until a police car near Williams Street rammed him.
He was shot in the arm and suffered minor injuries. He was under police guard last night in hospital and will be interviewed by homicide squad detectives.
One child was so badly injured a paramedic told police not to wait for an ambulance and take the baby to hospital in a police car.
The child was undergoing emergency surgery late Friday.
The official toll was three dead, a man, a woman and a child, with at least 25 injured. Emergency workers fear the death toll with rise.
The extent of damage to the offender's vehicle shows that he hit his victims at speed, with one being dragged under the car and others smashing on the bonnet and onto the roof.
The first fears were that this was a terror related attack, similar to recent attacks in Europe.
Premier Daniel Andrews said this "terrible criminal act" was not connected to any terrorist organisation.
But it shows how susceptible any peaceful city is to random attack and simply cannot be defended.
However, as Mr Andrews said, "we are stronger than this". He made his statement as stories emerged of the bravery and compassion of emergency first responders and ordinary city workers faced with unspeakable horror.
Even the fact the offender is alive is remarkable. He was shot in the arm and then arrested when it was clear he was no longer a threat.
In most jurisdictions he wouldn't have been given a second chance. He was shown more compassion than he gave the strangers he attacked in a few minutes of vile madness.