Explosion at Belconnen Mall

johnboy 17 December 2011 53

ACT Fire & Rescue on scene at Westfield Belconnen Mall investigating a small explosion in the food court area.

1:15pm Saturday 17 December 2011

ACT Ambulance Service intensive care paramedics also on scene have treated one male with burns and fragment injuries to legs and have transported to the Calvary Hospital in a stable condition.

A second male patient has been treated for fragment injuries to face.

Four more patients are being assessed by intensive care paramedics.

1:35 Saturday 17 December 2011

ACT Fire & Rescue has deemed the area safe and have handed the scene to ACT Policing to investigate the cause of the explosion.

1:48pm Saturday 17 December 2011

[Courtesy ESA]

UPDATE: ACT Policing has had this to say:

ACT Policing has attended a small explosion in the food court of Westfield Belconnen this afternoon (Saturday, December 17).

Around 1.05pm a 30-year-old man was carrying a bag containing cap gun ammunition through the centre. As the man carried the bag the caps were detonated causing a small explosion in the food court.

The man was conveyed to Calvary Hospital by ACT Ambulance Service.

Part of the upper level food court remains cordoned off however, trading in the rest of the centre is operating as normal.

AFP Forensics and SRS Bomb Response Team have attended and analysed the scene. Investigations are ongoing.

Saturday, December 17 2011, 04:06 AM

If you’ve got photos of the incident mail them through to images@the-riotact.com .


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53 Responses to Explosion at Belconnen Mall
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basketofcat basketofcat 8:56 am 25 Dec 11

Disinformation said :

NoImRight said :

Have you seen any attempts at doing anything “security” wise at the shopping centers and malls which would be the number one soft target?

Gunghalin Town Centre

– shops spread out, rather than concentrated
– few central enclosed areas that have seating
– (generally) low ceilings
– uninteresting demographic profile

Disinformation Disinformation 11:26 pm 24 Dec 11

NoImRight said :

Unless you have access to particular information that youre not sharing thats a somewhat petty and selfish attitude.

Okay. I’ll share my particular information. You must be totally blind while you’ve lived in Canberra. You’ll notice that the security features have been designed into new government buildings and security procedures have increased when you go into them. Security theater has increased to ridiculous levels at the airport. CPTED (google it) has been incorporated into many existing buildings if you care to remember what used to be there and wonder about the changes. Ever noticed some changes at the Belco AFP HQ?
Australia wide, consider the concept of the pathetic security guards on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, overzealous transit police prosecuting photographers in train stations and people being encouraged to dob in photographers taking photos of anything “suspicious”.

Have you seen any attempts at doing anything “security” wise at the shopping centers and malls which would be the number one soft target?

Looks like my particular information is observation, common sense and historical reports on terrorism..

GraceMaybe GraceMaybe 10:52 am 24 Dec 11

BerraBoy68 said :

It’ll be interesting to see how the person who’s bag apparently held the explosive tries to talk their way out of this one…

I know the man who was ‘the cause’ of the explosion, and even though a fully grown man, he is very autistic, and he has a cap ‘bomb’ http://www.pyrodirect.com/media/ecom/prodlg/077-2024.jpg or several and he likes to play with them. I remember when I was little he would often scare me with it and laugh and I would laugh as well. He also likes lolly pops and water balloons and keeps them with him at all times.

So I think that he will be fine.

NoImRight NoImRight 4:20 pm 21 Dec 11

“It also goes to show that while Government agencies feel happy to do something for themselves, they don’t really care about the general public. Maybe because in their secret hearts, they know that I’m right.
Politically though, that would be suicide…”

Unless you have access to particular information that youre not sharing thats a somewhat petty and selfish attitude. Basically you dont know what you dont know. I actually agree that Australia is an unlikely target for “terrorists” but it doesnt mean a lot of people dont go to great lengths to keep us that way. Its an unfortunate side effect of being involved in relatively secret work that those protecting us dont receive acknowledgement but rather small minded cheap shots.Its not like theres a lot of statistics on intelligence gathered or more subtle actions taken. It seems we prefer to wait for a failure of our security and then demand to know why the Government didnt “do something”. How many times have they “done something” and we just dont know?

I would like to add though that I hate the way “threats” are used to manipulate us. I still recall an argument I had years ago with someone regarding the invasion of Iraq and how they were quite adamant it was them or us. The expression “we are fighting fro our survival.” was used. How many others share this belief based on media manipulation?

thumper109 thumper109 3:04 pm 21 Dec 11

fgzk said :

I’m at a loss for words. Ive got a spare TV if you need to borrow one.

Thanks, but I don’t watch much TV. And 2001 was about when the ABC news sold out to sensationalism and lost I interest. So it was the last time I “saw a government building on its own soil targetted for terrorism”.

fgzk fgzk 1:47 pm 21 Dec 11

I’m at a loss for words. Ive got a spare TV if you need to borrow one.

thumper109 said :

Disinformation said :

When was the last time that you saw a government building on its own soil targetted for terrorism?

The Pentagon, 2001. But that aside, I do agree.

thumper109 thumper109 1:06 pm 21 Dec 11

Disinformation said :

When was the last time that you saw a government building on its own soil targetted for terrorism?

The Pentagon, 2001. But that aside, I do agree.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 10:15 pm 20 Dec 11

Disinformation said :

Yep. Very similar experiences here, to the point that we would quite likely know the same people.
My experiences range between shooting against Rob Leatham…

Thanks for your polite and thoughtful comments. It’s a nice change to some of the sillier RA noise.

Interesting about Leatham….he’s very good indeed, although I’ve heard he’s a bit up himself. Still, who wouldn’t be with his record. 🙂

Regarding your other comments….

Point taken about the difference between anticipated range detonations versus the surprise bang in the mall.

And I completely agree with you about the overhyped terrorist threat. We are all very soft targets here in Australia, but we are also very unlikely targets. There’s a lot more people in the world who hate Americans than there are people who hate Australians. Why would the villains conduct a terrorist attack here, when the profile and response (which is what they want) would be higher elsewhere?

And if there is going to be an attack here, why would they foolishly attack a hardened target when there are so many other options? I can think of a hundred locations where a car with a boot full of ANFO would raise havoc. I won’t put any down here, though, because I don’t want to get into trouble.

Anyway, here’s to no more kabooms in shopping malls.

Erg0 Erg0 11:56 am 20 Dec 11

wrigbe said :

I was in the mall at the time in a nearby shop (perhaps 20-30 metres away) , and given the reactions of everyone else it appears my response was little strange. I assumed something really heavy fell. That was what it sounded like to me. Even when I walked past the spot a little later I looked up because I assumed something had fallen through the roof.
Even now I have difficulty understanding how it could be cap gun ammunition because it was such a single distinct sound.

That was exactly what I thought for a split second – it was similar to the sound of something big and heavy falling flat on the ground. It was only because it was so loud that my mind quickly shifted to “something blew up”.

Muttsybignuts Muttsybignuts 11:53 am 20 Dec 11

We were there. The best bit were the Chinese whispers going around. the first shop we went into told us the bloke was dead. 100% confirmed.
At the second shop, the sales person was mates with the security guard who told him the bloke had blown off all his fingers. Again, 100% confirmed.
The last shop we went into told us they heard a bloke had strapped fireworks to himself, lit them up and ran through the food court.

wrigbe wrigbe 11:36 am 20 Dec 11

I was in the mall at the time in a nearby shop (perhaps 20-30 metres away) , and given the reactions of everyone else it appears my response was little strange. I assumed something really heavy fell. That was what it sounded like to me. Even when I walked past the spot a little later I looked up because I assumed something had fallen through the roof.
Even now I have difficulty understanding how it could be cap gun ammunition because it was such a single distinct sound.

Disinformation Disinformation 11:02 am 20 Dec 11

LSWCHP said :

I have experience (a fair while ago now admittedly) with HE, claymores, grenades, detcord, ANFO and other explosives. I’ve seen, heard and initiated a lot of explosions. I wasn’t there on the weekend, but I saw the results a few minutes later.

Also, my wife and I are both shooters, and we are both familiar with the sound of large caliber high powered firearms being used in enclosed spaces. Those things are loud, and she said this particular explosion was Very Bloody Loud Indeed. I trust her judgement on this.

So yeah, at wasn’t like an M26 or a Claymore going off, but you’d be wrong to think it was just some caps from a cap gun going “pop”.

Yep. Very similar experiences here, to the point that we would quite likely know the same people.
My experiences range between shooting against Rob Leatham and regular visits to the ABDC. However, consider the differences between semi enclosed, anticipated explosions while wearing hearing protection and enclosed, unanticipated explosions without hearing protection.

Out of context reactions can be quite different.

While I don’t doubt the explosion scared the crap out of everyone there at the time, I have to balance my opinion on some factors which I find personally interesting and which I will share for your consideration.

The Terrorist Hype that we’re slowly moving out of, has concentrated “security” in Australia to those points which historically have never been targeted by terrorism anywhere in the world. Places where the most terrorist activity has been effective is totally ignored.
This makes me wonder if the general public have ever woken up to the level of care that the “Authorities” actually considered towards the person most at risk.

I’ve seen security tightened around government buildings and airlines. When was the last time that you saw a government building on its own soil targetted for terrorism? Police stations in Ulster weren’t exactly on their own soil either.
With the level of “security” on airlines now, how often are they targeted?

Here we have an example of how an unusual level of explosive material was unintentionally detonated in the middle of the almost perfect place to target the general public.
The only thing missing to totally skew the initial thoughts about this was a single combination of factors. It was a small explosion and the guy didn’t walk away from a bag left somewhere.

Had this not been the case, the prevailing mentality would have proceeded to investigate this as a suicide bomber.
Totally devoid of the reality that Australia has no political influence in the world, despite what most people like to think. Despite what the media and “Terrorist experts” like to tell us, there aren’t endless hordes of suicide bombers everywhere either. The risk is greatly overestimated but popular opinion likes to believe that we “have to do something” so that the great unwashed can feel safe in their beds tonight.

So what has actually happened is that this event has pretty well proven some points.

Anyone who really WANTED to kill a lot of Australians only has to walk their bombs into a shopping center food court. If someone can do it totally by accident, the chances of doing it by intention and not getting caught are virtually assured. The effect would target the general public who would be terrorised to a medium extent. (They’re not exactly being targeted in their own houses, such as was done by the Washington Sniper. That was almost a textbook method of low cost, effective terrorisation of the public even though it was a secondary effect.)

So the only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that nobody gives a shit about trying to terrorise Australians on their home soil. The rest of the world hardly knows where we are and we have about as much international political influence as a half eaten bowl of rice pudding.

It also goes to show that while Government agencies feel happy to do something for themselves, they don’t really care about the general public. Maybe because in their secret hearts, they know that I’m right.
Politically though, that would be suicide…

rosscoact rosscoact 10:44 am 20 Dec 11

I was walking towards it when the explosion happened and was I suppose 10 metres or so away.

The funny thing was terrified people running away but carrying their food with them. No fried chicken will be left behind.

Erg0 Erg0 8:58 am 20 Dec 11

mcmc said :

Yeah, I did actually. Nobody knew what was going on, and it is told to Australians, never stick around when there is a bomb. Yes, it turned out that it wasn’t, but do you know how people like this work? Set off a small explosion, people flock in to help and then a larger one is set of and hundreds of people are killed and injured. Clearly, you have never listened to the advice of authorities in the know. Besides, it isn’t my job. The mall employs security guards and other people who are trained in first aid for situations like these. At the time I left I didn’t know anyone had been hurt. I don’t know whether you were there or not, but it was really scary… and, with rude comments like that I doubt that you were because you clearly aren’t showing any compassion for those who were put in that situation and have longer lasting damage. I have had nightmares every night since, and yes, after seeing a doctor earlier this morning it is possible that my ears have permanent damage from hearing it.

Absolutely agree, we were over in the video arcade with a friend’s kids and as soon as I saw the smoke we left the area at a brisk walk. I wasn’t necessarily thinking terrorist attack, but there was no good reason to stick around.

The bang was pretty loud from over the other side – I can only imagine what it would have been like being right next to it.

creative_canberran creative_canberran 11:59 pm 19 Dec 11

LSWCHP said :

Any blast that can break shopfront glass has to be pretty substantial.

This was counter glass as distinct from structural glass as I understand it. There’s also a good chance this was glass on a refrigerated counter, meaning it could have been thermal shock that caused it to break.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 11:21 pm 19 Dec 11

Disinformation said :

LSWCHP said :

Any blast that can break shopfront glass has to be pretty substantial.

I think that this quote needs to be put into perspective. “Pretty substantial” for an explosion of any sort encountered by the general public in the course of their lives where they don’t encounter any explosions..

I have experience (a fair while ago now admittedly) with HE, claymores, grenades, detcord, ANFO and other explosives. I’ve seen, heard and initiated a lot of explosions. I wasn’t there on the weekend, but I saw the results a few minutes later.

Also, my wife and I are both shooters, and we are both familiar with the sound of large caliber high powered firearms being used in enclosed spaces. Those things are loud, and she said this particular explosion was Very Bloody Loud Indeed. I trust her judgement on this.

So yeah, at wasn’t like an M26 or a Claymore going off, but you’d be wrong to think it was just some caps from a cap gun going “pop”.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 11:02 pm 19 Dec 11

mcmc said :

mcmc said :

As I was running away I snuck a glance at the Donut King staff, who were all standing there mouths wide open. I originally thought it was some of the equipment at Donut King. Considering I was about 7 metres away and how sore my ears are, I would imagine their ears are very sore – hopefully there is no permanent damage as a lot of the staff there are very young.

And yet, still you ran away rather than seeing if you could help?

Yeah, I did actually. Nobody knew what was going on, and it is told to Australians, never stick around when there is a bomb. Yes, it turned out that it wasn’t, but do you know how people like this work? Set off a small explosion, people flock in to help and then a larger one is set of and hundreds of people are killed and injured..

Precisely right. A guy in Belgium last week used grenades and a gun to commit mass murder, and injured over a hundred people. So, I agree that there’s been a lot of excessive hype about terrorism. However, the risk is not zero, and the tactics involving secondary detonations to catch first responders are pretty standard. I think that Getting out of Dodge is a reasonable course of action under those circumstances.

Had I been on the scene, I would’ve got my wife and kid on the ground, looked for a shooter and then hustled them out of there. Then maybe I would’ve gone back to help if she’d let me.

It’s easy to sit around and calmly postulate scenarios and courses of action after the fact. As it happened, my wife and one of my kids were at the scene of an explosion, after which grown men were on the ground hurt and bleeding and crying, one with his clothes blown off. This happened as people were happily doing some shopping a few days before Christmas, and my wife was writing a Christmas card while drinking coffee at Muffin Break.

I wouldn’t criticise anybody for how they acted under those circumstances. As it happened, many people immediately ran to comfort the injured and distressed, which speaks a great deal for their courage and selflessness. To those people, and the cops and emergency services people who helped out so efficiently, good on you all. To those who evacuated quickly, there’s no shame in self preservation.

fgzk fgzk 11:59 am 19 Dec 11

Walk, don’t run.

mcmc mcmc 11:54 am 19 Dec 11

mcmc said :

As I was running away I snuck a glance at the Donut King staff, who were all standing there mouths wide open. I originally thought it was some of the equipment at Donut King. Considering I was about 7 metres away and how sore my ears are, I would imagine their ears are very sore – hopefully there is no permanent damage as a lot of the staff there are very young.

And yet, still you ran away rather than seeing if you could help?

Yeah, I did actually. Nobody knew what was going on, and it is told to Australians, never stick around when there is a bomb. Yes, it turned out that it wasn’t, but do you know how people like this work? Set off a small explosion, people flock in to help and then a larger one is set of and hundreds of people are killed and injured. Clearly, you have never listened to the advice of authorities in the know. Besides, it isn’t my job. The mall employs security guards and other people who are trained in first aid for situations like these. At the time I left I didn’t know anyone had been hurt. I don’t know whether you were there or not, but it was really scary… and, with rude comments like that I doubt that you were because you clearly aren’t showing any compassion for those who were put in that situation and have longer lasting damage. I have had nightmares every night since, and yes, after seeing a doctor earlier this morning it is possible that my ears have permanent damage from hearing it.

steveu steveu 8:52 am 19 Dec 11

Disinformation said :

…The saddest thing about the comments here so far is that the general population has now shifted to expecting a terrorist attack when they experience an explosion. And in a country that has virtually no political clout to swing, so is an incredibly low terrorist target, the terrorists have won. All that needs to be done now is send an email to the Canberra Times claiming that the vendor had “links to Al Quaida” because someone saw him wearing a checquered scarf last winter.

Agreed. You can thank the government for that – particularly around election time they like to instill a culture of fear, in order to get voted in again – and also to justify legislation and/or actions which impinge on what people believe is their rights…

At the end of the day I hope the people involved are not permanently injured, and recover quickly.

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