MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)
-- A gunman opened fire on a downtown street during the morning rush hour Monday in Australia's second largest city, killing one man and critically wounding two other people while scattering terrified commuters, police said.
The suspect fled, and police launched a manhunt in the southern city of Melbourne, closing several streets and advising people to stay indoors as tactical officers armed with shotguns fanned out and helicopters joined the search overhead.
Police said the shooting did not appear to be a random act, and that it was believed a woman who was one of the victims knew the gunman.
The other two victims -- including the one who died -- were male bystanders who came to the aid of the woman during an altercation with a man who pulled out a gun, witnesses said.
"A girl came out of a building over the road, she was screaming and a guy had her by the hair," Ross Murchie told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
"She tried to grab hold of a taxi that was going by and the couple of bystanders went over to ask what was happening," Murchie said. "He let go of her hair, pulled out a gun and shot them all."
Inspector Steve Martin said the woman and one of the men who went to assist were rushed to hospital in critical condition with gunshot wounds to their chests. The third victim died at the scene, he said.
The shooting occurred on the corner of Flinders Lane and William Streets in central Melbourne around 8 a.m. Monday (2200 Sunday), sending hundreds of frightened commuters fleeing. A short time later, police said they had recovered a handgun and a jacket believed to have been worn by the attacker, who remained at large.
Prime Minister John Howard declined to comment directly on the shooting because he was not aware of the details, but said he was willing to open discussions on further tightening gun control laws
[because they're apparently working??? *rolls eyes* - 72Malibu
] with state leaders, who have responsibility for policing them.
Justice Minister David Johnston said Australian firearms laws already were very tight and that it was likely the gun used in Monday's shooting was obtained illegally
[So, they're admitting that their gun control laws only disarm people who are most unlikely to commit a violent crime, leaving those who can and doillegally obtain them become far more braisen anddangerous... where's the logic in that? - 72Malibu
"It is very, very, difficult for a law-abiding citizen to obtain a handgun
," [CONFIRMED! - 72Malibu
]Johnston said, adding: "If someone wants to purchase a concealable weapon on the black market they will probably be successful.
" [Admitting that their gun control laws DON'T WORK to prevent violent crime and prevent law-abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves... again, where's the logic in this? - 72Malibu
Police said the gunman and the female victim may have been involved in a fight at a nightclub about 10 minutes before the shooting.
"It does appear that there was a relationship between the female and the male suspect," said Inspector Glenn Weir said. "Certainly we're not looking that it's a random act, certainly not gang-related. It appears as though it's a domestic-related incident."