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Frank Vitkovic
Frank Vitkovic
Background information
Born (1965-09-07) September 7, 1965 (age 52)
Died

December 8, 1987(1987-12-08) (aged 22)
Melbourne, Australia

Cause of death Suicide
Attack information
Date December 8, 1987
Location(s) Melbourne, Australia
Killed 8
Injured 5
Weapon(s) Sawed off M1 carbine

Frank Vitkovic was an Australian who killed eight people and wounded five others in Melbourne, Australia on December 8, 1987, before committing suicide.

LifeEdit

Frank Vitkovic was born 7 September 1965 to a Croatian father, and an Italian mother. He grew up in the Melbourne suburb of West Preston. He attended Redden Catholic College (formerly Immaculate Heart College, Preston, later renamed Samaritan Catholic College) in Preston. He started a law degree at Melbourne University in 1984 but had voluntarily discontinued that course in early 1987.

Police believed he had always intended to shoot people in the Queen Street building. It was reported that Vitkovic had left a note at his home; police indicated that it was not a suicide note. Vitkovic had obtained a shooters licence and had bought the gun a few weeks prior to the shooting. He had illegally modified the .30 M1 Carbine, virtually changing it to a hand gun. It was loaded with jacketed ammunition.

Vitkovic obtained his shooting licence on 17 September 1987. When asked at that time why he wanted a licence, Vitkovic stated "I desire to go hunting". He purchased the rifle on lay-by, finally collecting it 21 October 1987. Prior to the shooting Vitkovic had removed the barrel and the handle of the weapon.

After the shooting a neighborhood friend of the family said that Frank Vitkovic was an excellent student, a good tennis player, friendly and helpful, over six feet tall and very good looking. After the shooting, a rumour circulated that he had sought help from the Melbourne University counselling service on the day of the shooting. The head of law at the University, Susie Nixon, later told The Age that while Vitkovic had once sought counselling during his career with the law school, reports he had been at the university on the day of the shooting were "totally unfounded". He had not left his course with hostility and Nixon believed there was no direct link between the shooting and his "deferral" from his course.

ShootingEdit

At around 4:20pm Frank Vitkovic entered the building at 191 Queen Street, Melbourne, carrying a sawn-off M1 carbine in a brown paper bag.

Vitkovic entered the fifth floor office of the Telecom Employees Credit Co-operative where a former friend, Con Margelis, worked. Margelis was called to the counter and briefly spoke with Vitkovic. Vitkovic then pulled his weapon from the bag. Margelis ducked behind a counter; Vitkovic began firing, killing a young woman office worker, Judith Morris. A robbery alarm was activated by a staff member at 4.22 pm. Margelis escaped the office unharmed, and hid in the female toilets. Vitkovic then took an elevator to the 12th floor, to the Australia Post Philately security section. There Vitkovic shot and injured a man and a woman, pointed his gun at a woman sitting at her desk, only to pan his aim to the left and shoot dead Julie McBean and Nancy Avignone. A man in the corner office on this level, Warren Spencer, also died.

Vitkovic then ran down the stairs to level 11, firing indiscriminately. Vitkovic charged into the computer training centre, shooting Michael McGuire at point blank range, killing him. Vitkovic then moved to the north east corner of the office floor, cornering several office workers at their desks. Marianne Van Ewyk, Catherine Dowling and Rodney Brown were fatally shot in this area, some while cowering under their desks. Three other workers were wounded here. A male office worker Donald McElroy (who had been shot once) tackled Vitkovic while another man, who had been shot several times, wrestled the rifle from him. A wounded female worker, Rosemary Spiteri, took the rifle and hid it in a refrigerator.

Tony Gioia had tackled Vitkovic and the wounded Frank Carmody had taken his rifle. Both men were later awarded Australia's second-highest bravery decoration, the Star of Courage.

Vitkovic climbed through an open window, apparently trying to climb onto an external ledge of the building. Gioia held him by the ankles, trying to prevent his escape. Vitkovic kicked free and fell to his death on the pavement below.

No one died in the building's lifts. Vitkovic did not fire on police or into the street. One bullet pierced a window on the 11th floor. It was believed that around 1,000 people were in the building at the time of the shootings. After the fall police and members of the special operations group searched the building for accomplices.

Vitkovic had fallen at 4.27 pm; police started their search of the building at 4.30 pm. At 5.00 pm the Special Operations Group confirmed that the dead man on the street was the gunman and the all clear was given for ambulance officers to enter the building to attend to the injured.

Victorian Police Minister Race Mathews and Attorney General Jim Kennan also witnessed the event from a building diagonally opposite while gathered for a meeting.

VictimsEdit

  • Annunziata "Nancy" Avignone, 18
  • Rodney Gerard Brown, 32
  • Catherine Mary Dowling, 28
  • Julie Faye McBean, 20
  • Michael Francis McGuire, 38
  • Judith Anne Morris, 19
  • Warren David Spencer, 29
  • Marianne Jacoba Van Ewyk, 38

Those wounded were:

  • Unidentified Man
  • Unidentified Woman
  • Rosemary Spiteri
  • Donald McElroy
  • Frank Carmody

ReferencesEdit